Archive for the ‘california’ Category
I’m on my way back to Ontario now. It won’t be long and I’ll be meeting the new-old house in Nova Scotia. However, I’m still a few thousand miles away from that space. I’ve taken a lot of photos, but it will take some time for me to sort through them, so they will keep for awhile. Today’s photos are from different points in time — not from this trip, but from others of the past. Don’s birthday was yesterday – he would now be 58 if he had not died on September 6, 2008.
In a recent post, I mentioned that my autumn 2009 trip ended with a long, strange loop. After running ahead of the bad weather pushing me further and further south to the Mojave, I circled back through the Sierras and ended up on the Oregon-California area of the coast. My purpose in revisiting that location was that I felt compelled to go to some of the places that, for me, have strong associations with Don.
One of my first stops was to see if the giant redwood stump was still lodged in the sand at McVay Beach. Sure enough, it was. It felt odd to see it sitting there, unchanged, roughly three years from the day when I photographed Don sitting on a section of root. How is it possible that a seemingly lifeless stump still persists, while Don is no longer here with me? Since the day that I photographed him at the beach, so much has happened.
The above photo of Don was taken on October 12, 2006 when he came west to travel with me for a week. It gave me such pleasure to take him around to my favourite places such as this shoal on a river in southern Oregon. I photographed him as we talked about the colorful riverstones. The photo of me was taken moments later.
Now he is gone and I am alone. I see these photos from a happier time and realize how much has changed – and how much the experience of the past three years has altered my life, mind, and appearance.
The last pair of photos are perhaps the most important to me. In November, I returned to the secluded river where Don and I watched ouzels singing and diving into the torrent between water-sculpted rock formations. I photographed Don’s hand resting upon the thick moss that carpeted one of the larger formations.
Upon my return, I photographed my own hand on the same little patch of moss. It felt good to place my hand in this spot – almost as though placing my hand on his – with only time between us — and of what importance is time anyhow?
As mentioned in my last post, I had arrived at the decision to proceed with finding a place in Nova Scotia. In fact, Don and I had been searching for the right place for a couple of years before he became ill, so it was more a case of making it happen. Shortly after writing that post, I found a place that seemed just about right for us. In the space of a couple of weeks, I went from looking to owning.
I’m not quite ready to post photos or say too much about the house – probably not until after the closing – but will say that it’s a place I’d initially dismissed due to the size of the property. At a bit under two acres, it didn’t seem as though it could provide enough habitat to keep me busy roaming around studying insects. But, on a bit of a whim, I included this property in a list given to my agent. When she sent me the lot plans of several places, this one immediately tweaked my interest due to its location along a year-round brook which bends around the property before flowing onwards into an area of marsh and then on out into the Annapolis River. Could this be the place? Could I find enough to keep me busy on this odd-shaped property with the brook running by its doorstep? My terrific agent went out and shot more photos and video clips of the property. After viewing them, I felt strongly that, “Yup, this is the one.” It has a nice mix of trees, many quite large. There is quite a long stretch of frontage on the brook. The house is set back well from the road (a dog owner and peacefulness consideration), and is located atop a high knoll looking down upon the brook and across the Annapolis Valley to the North Mountain.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Yes, indeed. But here’s the reality check. I’ll be the first to say that the house is in very rough condition — the kind of house I usually refer to as an “old beater”. However, I’d been looking for a project house – one that might keep me occupied for at least a couple of seasons. This place will, no doubt, take all of that and more, but I think it will be worth the time and effort. Unlike many very old houses – and this one could be quite old – maybe 150 years or so – it has many goodly sized windows and seems full of light. I must say “seems”, as I have not been there yet, and won’t arrive until after the closing — my decision to buy the place being based almost entirely on the setting of the property and its location, and not on the house. That said, after examining photos and watching video clips, the old place has continued to grow on me. I have a feeling that it and I will be comfortable together.
So, in about two weeks, the dogs and I will begin our northeast trek, first to Ottawa to visit my mom, and then to the storage locker to load up the van with tools. After that, it will be on to Nova Scotia. I hope to spend this season exploring the house, its property, and the surrounding area. It’s just a few miles from Annapolis Royal, so the region is familiar to me. Don and I passed through the town a number of times and hiked several nearby trails. I’m hoping that the move will seem like a homecoming of sorts. In between explorations, my time will be spent assessing the needs of the house and getting going with the most pressing repairs. It should be an interesting spring and summer.
No doubt, a few who see the house will think I’ve lost my mind for taking on such a project, but in fact, I think the house will help me to keep it. It’s probably no great secret that Don’s death has taken a huge toll on my interest in just about everything. For a creative person who has worked at all kinds of jobs and on many different projects, the past 18 or so months have seemed almost pointless to me. Regardless, I’ve pushed on, trying to keep going, with the hope that some day in the future, I would begin to feel something again. It appears that this place may be it. Since deciding to buy the property, most mornings I wake up feeling like I’ve made the right choice. The northward trek which I’d actually come to dread, now seems not so daunting as there is something interesting waiting at the end of the trail. In about a month, we’ll arrive in Nova Scotia to discover whether I’m right – whether this is the place. At that time, I will begin to post photos and may create a place on the net to document the history of the house along with my efforts towards its restoration.
Now, about these Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)! Last November, on my way to Arizona, I made a detour of monumental proportion. After leaving Red Rock Canyon, I turned away from my southward progress and journeyed up along the Kern River to the heart of the Sierras – home of the Sequoia. The decision to do more wandering before moving on to Arizona was made at Red Rock, in part because I was early arriving this far south — I had a couple of weeks or so to wait before I could move in at the house which I rent here in Bisbee. The dogs seemed very heat stressed once we got that far south, and life in a van can be difficult. Also, due to bad weather earlier in the trip, I’d decided not to go out to the coast. Now, the weather was looking good for awhile, so I turned in that direction with the intention of spending some time in the redwoods and going up as far as the Oregon coast to revisit the places I took Don to see when he came west to meet up with me and trip around in the autumn of 2006. Visiting the Sequoia was a special experience for me, and for my friend who had not been to see them in almost fifty years.
Our visit was late in the season, so there were few people around. We camped at a dispersed site beneath Ponderosa pine. We stopped at Trail of 100 Giants to see and photograph the trees. The trees in this grove are not among the largest Sequoia, but they are impressive and what’s a few feet in diameter when comparing giants? It seems amazing to find them growing at such an altitude in the western Sierras — such a different environment than the misty home of the their relations, the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). These trees look and feel ancient – the oldest in this grove are estimated to be about 1500 years old, but other examples of this species found only in a small region of the Sierras, are calculated to be in excess of 3000 years in age. We continued on the next day, descending through canyons cloaked with some of the richest growth of Manzanita that I’ve seen anywhere in my travels. It was good to visit the Sequoia and to make this return visit possible for my friend.