Insert owl pun here

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I love owls. I haven’t seen an owl in a long time beyond in zoos or rehab centers- the last time I saw an owl in the wild it was an enormous, quiet great grey owl that swooped out of a stand of dead trees near the Missouri while my father and I were pheasant hunting.

Well, today I got to encounter a barred owl! Barred owls are fat, fluffy, beautiful large owls that have imposing looking talons and beautiful faces that are slightly rounded so as to direct sound to their ears so they can hear everything even better. Owls, in short, fascinate me. Birds of prey in general do.


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Time for the darker posts. It’s October. The mornings are crisp, the nights damp and chilly. The sun still coaxes us outside to feel its rays on our face but they feel weaker each day.

These are some photographs I took in 2014 in Cape Cod on a swamp trail. My mother and I escaped to the beaches, but it being early June it was still very cold. The trail was only a mile long but the rich darkness of everything in a swamp is eerie. I remember loving it- it felt like every bend of the boardwalk led us to another secret part of the earth. It was somewhere I wanted to see at night but with somebody I felt safe with.

Blood Moon + Tidal Pools

The blood moon + lunar eclipse happened on Sunday night, and I felt that I had to go and see the moon change. I had never been down the beach alone at night, but I put on my rubber rain boots, put my best lens on my camera, and put on the heavy wool lopapeysa sweater I bought in Reykjavik. It wasn’t truly cold, but it was  bone-seeping, saturating chilly, at 8 pm. The air felt heavy, overwhelming. The closer I got to the beach the more I saw car lights- my poor dark adjusted eyes burned each time a car drove down the curve by the beach.

My idea to watch the eclipse was not original- far from it. I heard people before I saw them. Burly, coat-rounded forms of humans perched on various blankets and pieces of driftwood all over the smooth-pebbled beach greeted me- some bright phone screens, some spindly-looking creatures that were tripods holding up cameras far nicer than mine. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get any photographs- it was too damn dark to get anything of value without moving the camera one way or another.

Regardless, the moon was already beautiful, a rusty, eerie red sphere hanging out over the sound. I made far too much noise as I walked on the rocky beach, feeling horribly aware of my presence, but quickly found an enormous tree piled on rocks and other trees. It sat about 6-8 feet off the beach, but it was old and sturdy. I dangled my feet and buttoned up my sweater as the chill settled.

Watching the moon eclipse for the first time was a lonely experience, perhaps magnified by the cold, but the moon itself is a lonely thing, so it was fitting. The waves lapping at the beach and the light refracting on the water’s surface added to the beauty of it all. The symphony of the earth, unaffected by human presence, continued as it had for eons, and I was able to sit and reflect on a storm-tossed, smooth, enormous piece of driftwood and think about this.

Eventually the blood in my hands was gone and the persistent chill of the heavy night air drove me to head home. The moon was back out in beautiful, ivory and grey-flecked brilliance, and I walked home with some horrible pictures and a head full of wonder.

The photographs above are very near where I sat and watched the eclipse. I loved discovering that we have tidal pools here.

All the Icelandic Angst: Alliterations and (finally) some film

Victoria thankfully has several worthy developers of black and white film, so after putting about 3 rolls through my mum’s trusty 1980’s Olympus I dropped them off. Three days later I held sleek beautiful rolls of film in my hands and felt exhilarated. I love my DSLR, I love how practical it is to take a digital camera and be able to make several hundred photographs in one day and process them and really get some good ones.

But film, oh film. You have to respect it- your hands can’t be oily, you handle everything with cotton, you must keep them from heat and cold. Cutting negatives, carefully putting them in the trays, and calibrating your scanner, all of these are conscious, direct actions that you do. You have to work for and with your film. Even if I don’t develop my own, I still get one on one with making my pictures a reality in a way I never can with digital.

Anyway, I forgot I had taken a roll of black and white film in Iceland, so when I unrolled the negs on the light table at Prism Imaging some rocky landscapes caught my eye and made me smile. Unfortunately I think my poor camera has some light leaks- might DIY with a flashlight in a dark room and see if I can identify any and just put some electrical tape somewhere but if not…well….luckily old cameras like Olympus were mass-produced, so if I need a new body it’ll be pretty cheap.

Emily and I wish we had spent our whole 3 weeks abroad in Iceland. It was unsettling but familiar. I feel homesick like crazy right now, but if I had to be somewhere else I wouldn’t mind being there. Someday it would be a blast to get a group of 4/5 people and do a month driving around the Ring Road, camping out of a van and spending a few days here and there. We barely scratched the surface of this beautiful country, I feel like I experienced 0.0000001% of the potential awesomeness.

It was a lot of quiet moments. Emily drove us around, as I can’t drive stick (yet- I want to learn!) and I read aloud from The Gunslinger, the first of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series throughout the days. Emily thought it was bizarre but awesome. We ate chocolate covered raisins everywhere and I drove her crazy making her stop at different places while I looked for somewhere that sold stamps (an information office outside of a National Park finally did!). We picked up two sets of hitchhikers- two sisters from France, and two best friends from France.There was black sand in the floor mats and my hair was a tangled mess. It was never dark and sleeping was a chaotic mess because you’d wake up and it would be 3 am out but it would look like 9 am. All the hot water has a sulfuric smell so after showering you didn’t feel like you really smelled any better, more like a minion from Hell. Living out of backpacks meant that our clothes were wrinkled messes constantly. The tiny heater in our cottage was hyper-efficient and perfectly located for me to put a chair right next to it and press my cold feet against it.

More to come. It’s rainy and chilly here, but I do want to take a walk. Yesterday it was raining all evening and the streets were so beautiful. The bus floors were slippery though and several people had trouble getting into their seats with dignity. (As a clumsy fool I empathized).

New haunts

Homesickness has me in it’s inevitable grip. Yesterday I ended up talking with a professor for over two hours and she asked me how I feel here and it took a lot for me to not just begin crying. You don’t break into tears in front of Oxford educated professors. I’m pretty sure that’s a rule. I did try to wear heels to class, for some reason that seemed like a good idea- my horrible ankles, ruined after so many injuries and falls, failed me shortly after I hobbled into the library, and thankfully the cynical side of me tucked some flats into my purse. It was fun being 3 inches taller for a while, though, and you never know until you try. They had free food yesterday on campus so I obviously took advantage of that. Finding optimism in the little things, like the cold air coming in from the open windows on the bus, or feeling how warm your sweater is against the chill of the rain, or the snug comfort of well-fitting rain boots- these are things to focus on and draw power from. How satisfying it is holding a warm mug of tea in my hands, seeing my little plants slowly grow, these are all beautifully worthwhile things to concentrate on instead of wanting to be elsewhere.

More meandering

It’s at either the beginning or the end of the day that I find the most contentment in walking around Victoria. People are nestled in their homes, either not ready to venture out into the world, intimidating as it is, or they are back home, after a day out and about.

I’ve found two awesome Gothic Revival churches, but I’ve walked by them during Mass both times, so haven’t ventured in yet. Gothic Revival is appropriately ridiculous but gorgeous all the same. I love pointed arches- they are hopeful, somehow. Gothic architecture was originally created in the medieval period to create shining, light filled spaces that were euphoric and very connected with God, and although I am not religious in that way, the psychology of Gothic architecture does have a piece of my heart. The buildings are so comforting to me.

The mornings have been chillier. I’ve been able to wear my outlandish, woolly Icelandic sweater, and accompanying woolly scarves, and have been pleasantly surprised by how damn warm they are. Classes are stressful, terrifying, but liberating. I am smarter than I think (I hope). Tomorrow is the day I go fetch 4 beautiful rolls of uncut negatives from Prism Imaging- 1 color, 3 black and white. I cannot wait- the tangibility of negatives, cutting them, pressing them gently into the scanner, are all deliberate actions in the part of making an image into a reality that I love. Even if I haven’t developed my own in a few years, I still find film entrancing in a way an SD card cannot be.

If I work hard enough today and get things done ahead of schedule, I could very well spend tomorrow evening with the lovely hum of my scanner and a glass of wine, and to me that seems like the best darn thing ever. So, I must be off so I can finish ALL THE THINGS…or at least, enough of them.