Thursday, February 04, 2010

Just a Few More Steps

The light was disappearing almost as fast as the Rooks. I wanted a shot of the rooks like the scene yesterday over the rooftops at Castlehill--the heritage centre on the grounds of the old flagstone works. I was impatient because I had already done several things wrong. I should never have been cameraless. I should not expect to get a shot like something seen yesterday where things vary moment to moment--let alone day to day. And of course I should not expect critters to stand still. Especially not skittish social birds used to living in close proximity with humans who often do not appreciate their presence. So the rooks swooped and perched and re-perched always just out of reach of my camera lens.

I took this first shot as a do-me-til photo. Sometimes I use photos almost like little Post It notes. I can recall from the photo the feel of a day or an idea. Sometimes I take photos of the same thing trying always to get a better one. It took me about 4 years photographing heather before I felt as if I might be getting the hang of it. And, more practically, it was cold and I was eager to be inside with a cup of coffee to warm my fingers.

Instead I took just a few more steps--back around the gate and into the not yet renovated area. The air was so still that I could hear all the voices of the people who had once been there--and the occasional jibe from a rook or two to lure me on.

And so I took a few more steps. If the light had been better, I would have tried to photograph the curiously curved wooden frame that must once have held a window in the gable end of the deserted building or the soft mouse-coloured stones protruding awkwardly above the snow. After several failed attempts at catching the rooks, I noticed the tracery of the branches of the ancient trees arching above me and stood a moment to let the branches and the rook-call and the dwindling light fold me into their rhythm.
And then I took my numbed fingers inside and wrapped them around a cuppa and talked about the photo I didn't get, but the moment in the cathedral of the trees lingered in the back of my mind.
This morning as one side of the sky looked like a child's drawing of a sky--blue with a couple cotton ball trees--and the other like a dark gray sash along the horizon, I thought about the pleasure of those few extra steps in the cold and bundled up for a walk.
Instead of turning to the moss, I went up the hill. From a spot just a few feet higher than the house I could see for miles: sun-bathed cliffs of Dunnet Head in pink and beige, farmsteads and fields of dark green Sitka spruce and mottled snow patches against the brown earth. I turned in a sort of languous pirouette at the top of the hill taking it all in. I could not begin to capture it with a photograph, so I tucked it into my mind as a metaphor, a reminder that when I am weary or my world has grown monochromatic, I need to take those few more steps to find the cathedral in the trees or the treasures from the top of the hill. Along the way, I might also just get a good photo of those pesky rooks.


At 5:27 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

A good philosophy of life is "just a few more steps." It can mean just a little more compromising with someone; just one more difficult-to start conversation in order to understand someone; just one more task when one is tired, such as sending a card to someone. It can have so many meanings. I hope someday you get the photo of the rooks you want. In Macbeth the crow flew into the rooky wood.

At 8:16 AM, Blogger scorrie said...

you get better and better at desription of the things around us that so many miss // scorrie //

At 3:37 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

Also "Just a few more steps" can mean getting a little bit of a start on a craft project or doing a tiny bit of a big stack of something. What a great phrase!

At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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