Diary (archives) - Claude Lavoie Photo

Photographic chit-chat

Photographic chit-chat (image unavailable)

Tuesday 2011-06-21 :

I am whizzing along the placid river on my bicycle, head low, eyes on the road ahead, pushing hard on the descending pedal while pulling on the mounting one, intoxicated by speed.

I am just setting out on a ninety minute ride that will first take me alongside the river, then around a large forest miraculously left unscathed by the city that encircles it completely. This late into the day, one has to be cautious not to collide with the numerous deer that still inhabit the place and stand motionless in the middle of the paths, not in the least bothered by the strollers and cyclists that brush by them.

The day has been warm; I waited for the air to cool down before heading out. The sun above is like a big orange ball dipping towards the horizon; the air is filled with the song of birds and the chirping of crickets. It is 8 PM on June 21st, the longest day of the year : the culmination of summer, the triumph of light. Nature exults; so do I.

Friday 2011-05-13 :

(Melancholy of Friday the thirteenth)

I once was young. That was long ago; I cannot remember very well.

I vaguely recall an euphoric lightness, unquestioned optimism, the clear evidence of things, the complicity of friends, and the calm assurance that a seemingly endless supply of time ahead provides. That is about it.

All I am left with today is astonishment about how fast this time went by and how far behind it already is, and a vague regret of having finally not done much of it, despite all the frenzy.

· · · · · · · · · · ·

I do not long for the past. As years go by, I feel more and more like stepping down from the stage, walk up the aisle, and plump myself down into a seat from which I can watch the show in silence. The story has a stale smack of déjà vu but still retains the attention, leaving me as disinclined to walk out as to stand up and applaud.

Contemplation makes me happier than action; I would rather stay in the wings than play a leading role.

Monday 2011-04-11 :

I was startled upon reading the sender's name of the email that had just landed in my mailbox : the spouse of a renowned photographer, now deceased, whose name she still bears.

We had exchanged a few messages, several years before, about a posthumous publication of his hitherto unpublished photographs that I had commented in an article, which I had sent to her. Nothing else since.

From conversations with gallery owners, at exhibitions featuring his work (in Nice and New York City namely), I had gathered that she now managed his photographic estate.

I felt flattered that she had kept my address and curious about the purpose of her message. Why was she writing? Had she developed an interest in my photographic work? Feverish, I opened; for all content, the small-sized scan of one of his best-known photographs, and three words : "This one, right?".

Wrong addressee; a fragment from a longer conversation I should have remained out of. I filed the message with those she had sent me years before, which I keep preciously.

Should I inform her of her mistake?

Monday 2011-03-07 :

My beloved and I often stay in this little inn wedged between the old port and the cliff atop of which the historic quarter of Quebec City is perched. We stopped here tonight upon returning from a visit to my mother; tomorrow, shunning the autoroute, we will spend the whole day driving back to Montréal on the road that winds along the north shore of the St-Lawrence.

We have our very own routine : we always reserve the same room, located in the rounded end of the building, with its two large windows that overlook the old port. Once in, we do not go out; we dine from a cold meal and a glass of red wine. Then we sit at the window and discuss the joys and worries that children bring, the regret of not visiting our aging parents more often, the fatigue caused by our fast-paced lifestyle, vacation plans, and other everyday concerns.

We performed this same ritual yesterday night. The snow was falling heavily, and only a few persons dared to venture out into the cold and the early darkness of winter for a walk on the wharves of the Bassin Louise. As usual, we went to bed early.

We were woken at 4:30 AM by the noise of the snow removal operation in the streets : the raucous scraping noise, on the concrete sidewalks, of the shovel blades of the tracked vehicles, the banging of the loader buckets against the dumpers of the trucks that carry the snow away, and the deafening din of all the fast-revving motors.

A noisy but remarkably efficient ballet. All the snow must be removed before the cars of the commuters take to the streets, in less than two hours. For you see, in North America, the circulation of motor cars has unquestioned precedence over the sleep of the citizen.

We fell back into sleep at 6:30 AM, after the gigantic mechanical insects had departed.

Thursday 2011-02-17 :

Truth and war are alike : both are declared as a matter of principle, with the conviction that the justness of the cause can only bring about a quick and complete victory; both suck down everything and everyone; both end in exhaustion, with no one left unharmed, no one fit enough to continue.

- - - - - - - - - - -

My spirit is so vainglorious that it takes the liberty to leave without even letting me know!

- - - - - - - - - - -

So many people everywhere; yet no one to talk with.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Now that I am getting old, if I was offerd immortality, I would think twice before accepting.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Wisdom is easily conceived of, but not as readily put into practice.

Monday 2011-01-24 :

It is a postcard Winter morning. The sun has not risen, but is heralded by a dazzling halo of lignt, on the eastern side of a cloudless sky.

I walked slowly and even took a long detour, to make the pleasure of the moment last, instead of heading directly for the bus stop. It is -25 Celsius; the cold is dry and comfortable, the snow goes crunch-crunch under the soles of my boots.

I scrape the frost from the inner surface of the bus window, and look outside. A thick slab of ice covers the calm bays of the St-Lawrence. Ice-fishing enthusiasts have already set foot on it; they have drilled holes through the now solid surface of the river, and have lowered their lines in the deep. They wait, their heart brimming with hope, hopping from one foot to the other, for the fish to swallow the bait on the hook.

Further away, the channel remains clear from ice; the whirlpools of the swift current preclude its formation. On a backdrop of cargo ships entering and leaving the harbour, black dots can be seen, intermittently disappearing and reappearing : diving ducks wintering on the reduced surface of ice-free water, I suppose. The polar cold does not seem to affect them in the least; as long as there is open water left they can dive, as usual, for the small fish they feed on. Under so favourable conditions, they find no reason to migrate further south for the winter.

The cold might be more benevolent than it first seems : it grants man, for his sole enjoyment, easy access to fishing; but it does not take it away from the ducks, who depend on it for their survival.

Diary archives :