Arctic Swimming, Bug Salad & Other Trail Delights

Somewhere around 1960 or ’61, my dad gave me a Kodak “Hawkeye Flashfun” camera he got free in a promotion for buying gas from ESSO (to fuel an über-handsome—not!— pink and black Plymouth that he bought because he got in a fender bender while on a test drive … but that’s a whole other story). From the moment of taking this little beauty out of its crisp cardboard box, until now, I was entranced by the feel of the paper rolls of 120 B&W film and by the smell of the four-gang flashbulbs that came with it. And so began a lifelong love of photography.

Although I started taking pictures for publication in Grade 7, as a staff photographer for the yearbook (called the Waverley Drive “Hoofer”), as an occasional contributor to publications in high school, and as a very keen low-light and concert photographer for the student papers and yearbook at university (loving 400 ASA Tri-X film pushed to 1600 and playing with the developing chemistry), it was of some concern that I not be identified as one of those “camera geeks” which, of course, I was … but in secret.

Photography has been, and remains, a most pleasurable way of interacting with people and places. Over the years, I have become more and more conscious that a camera creates a very particular kind of blindness, if you’re not careful, because of the way you can concentrate on “getting the shot” to the exclusion of appreciating in any other way what is actually happening in front of your eyes. But photography is also a way of seeing and celebrating in a semi-permanent way (especially now with digital imagery, which can go “poof” when you least expect it!) the patterns and colours and forms and relationships on the lines and circles of the trails we travel.