Digital memory

So Shoemom and I spent this gorgeous afternoon doing one of our favourite gorgeous-weekend-afternoon things: picking a direction and driving in it.

When we’re just feeling a little restless and want a change of scene this is usually north, via Aurora and Newmarket; when we merely want to coo over the wonders of nature and maybe pick a few berries, it’s east, through Burlington and Milton. When we really, truly feel the need to replenish our souls and sooth our savage breasts…we head out over the Escarpment, to the sprawling rural community of Pelham, where Shoemom was born and raised on a fruit farm.

As yours truly is fresh off experiencing the worst of modern civilization, in the shape of office superiors whose knowledge of what you actually do is in the direct obverse to how free they feel to criticize you…we opted this aft for c), without hesitation.

This isn’t, however, a paean to the glories of high autumn in Niagara, many and varied as those are. The seasons are just at that deliciously, delicately confused stage of change; colour and light playing over sombre decay, as if cheerfully refusing to believe it until absolutely necessary. A walk down country lanes in a northeastern October is somehow both an aid to contemplation and a spur to action.

Action in this case provided by the friends with whom we confided our plans over breakfast. One wanted a picture of a famously ancient maple; the other…offered her digital camera. Told me to take as many snaps as I wanted.

Well, of course I accepted. Was excited. Took about twenty-odd wonderful photos of lovely scenes and sights, enjoying the creative act of discovering and composing to the fullest extent (it’s easy to play Truffaut when you’re quite alone in dense woods: “Ah, but what if that leaf were to tremble at a different angle! Toujours gai, toujours gai!”). Shoemom is thrilled beyond measure to have a beautiful fall afternoon in her favourite places captured forever. Really, I thought to myself, why hadn’t I picked up one of these camera gadgets long since?

Answer: ‘Cause, everything else being equal, I’d rather go for a walk than take pictures of it. The technophobes were right: You simply can’t do both. It’s a subtle enough priority shift, but it’s there. No matter how accurately you strive to capture your environment with it, digital memory can’t store the…whatever you were there for in the first place. You do eventually have to think about that, to process it, consider it – and as a spur to thought, the 2D snapshot will always fall short of the full experience.

Thus endeth the sermon for this week. I will only add one more random observation that will ensure you never look at the hip new rock bands the same way again: Shoemom on fauxhawks. “Oh, for heaven’s sake. That’s how mothers used to comb their babies’ hair! Just like that, you’d wash it and then you’d take your fingers and pull it up in the middle. Everybody used to think it looked so cute – on the babies.”


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shing_
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 22:18:01

    It *was* a gorgeous day, today. I have the urge to head over to High Park. Maybe tomorrow after work.

    Will you be sharing any of your photographic masterpieces?

  2. shoebox2
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 23:17:05

    As soon as my friend produces the promised DVD, sure. I don’t know that many of them would be all that exciting to the 5,988,500 members of the general public who don’t live in rural Niagara…but hey, as long as I’m diving into modern technology I might as well go underwater.

  3. solo_1
    Oct 22, 2007 @ 08:56:37

    I live in the countryside and you are right, no matter how many times I see it, there truly is something special about glorious October days, the contrast of yellows and greens in the sunlight and the smell of the earth does something nice to my insides.

  4. anonymous
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:08:57

    What a coincidence! Guess where I was camping with the Girl Guides this past weekend? Camp Wetaskawin, which is smack dab in the middle of Shorthills Provincial Park, access from Pelham Road!

    This is the fifth October in a row I’ve camped and this was, without a doubt, the most gorgeous weather. Totally unencumbered by the need to take photos, but still difficult to relax and just soak up the scenery. Being responsible for a dozen 12 to 15 year olds will do that. But so warm, and with that nice breeze to just remind you that, yes, it really is fall (if the colour of the leaves wasn’t reminder enough).

  5. shoebox2
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 18:53:38

    No kidding? Much niftiness. Do you get out to the St. John’s Conservation area at all? That’s where we were – it used to be Shoemom’s backyard. 🙂

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