Tag Archives: Ocean

Shimoda Surf

Shimoda, Japan. March 2014.

Yokohama is on the sea, it’s true, but there’s sea and then there’s sea.

We took the train this weekend, down to the bottom of the Izu peninsula, to Shimoda, a city in a small town, a place more the size of the one I grew up in, than the one where I currently live.

It felt like sliding into an old pair of jeans, the ones with the frayed hems and the paint-drops and the many-times-laundered stains of a life, the small (unfashionable) tears at the knees. Not respectable jeans for wearing out, but the ones you change into when you’re home and have nothing to prove and know you can stay a while.

I grew up near beach towns. Something about their off-season solitude and in-season crush that makes beach towns themselves ephemeral, permanently temporary. Places where the human endeavours aspire to good-enough-for-now and perfection is left to nature, and the time saved between is spent in lazy appreciation of now, before we pack up and drive home with the sand still in our eyelashes.

I was a windsurfer once, but these days the lick of the wind on my face is pleasure enough, and to sit and squint my eyes and read the swells and watch the surfers dance along the break.

The Offense of Sleep

Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, Canada. July 2012.

It’s that time of year in the life of a school where our sleep is filled with dreams of summer, that summer of cool drinks tickling the throat on hot days, that summer of south winds and stars and evenings with the live music of nearby bars spilling into the ears of quiet cafes with rich desserts and the company of friends it’s been too long since last seen, that summer of canola fields and strawberries and bookstores in a language you understand, that summer which remains painfully at the other end of the-pile-of-things-you-need-to-do, tasks that take longer with every hour of sleep stolen from the time it takes to just-get-it-done.
In last year’s summer dream, we lived for a moment in a red house on a high cliff where the tall grass bent like the paint-licked bristles of a green-white brush in a chase of wind that sprinted with exigent indifference.
I slipped from the house one night before bed, saying I wanted to take a couple of photographs, that I’d be back in a few minutes, knowing it would be more like half an hour. Three hours later, closer to 3am than 2, I crept back home.
There’s a stillness in the middle of the night that’s magic, an openness to the world without its lid on, a sense of big that it seems an offense to be unconscious of. I took these photographs in the vacant lot next to the little red house and the skies kept moving and morphing into ever more beautiful patterns and rhythms and the moon and the stars kept shining through on the slumber of the town. A whale I couldn’t see passed near enough for me to hear it exhale and the wind wrapped everything in its urgent whispers until the gravity of exhaustion won out and dragged me home into an entirely different begrudging kind of sleep.

Pacific Approach

Over Japan. August 2012.

The approach to Honshu island of Japan from around 30,000 feet. Mount Fuji is visible from the balcony of our apartment, but to see it from the sky puts things in an entirely different perspective. It looks a little like the sort of mound kids make on beaches by gathering sand from all around into one well-packed peak. Its symmetry seems particularly Japanese.

Changing Greys

Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, Canada. July 2012.

We had the opportunity last summer, to stay in a little red cottage on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland. I was pretty exhausted from the school year’s work, so I was more than content to just sit on the deck and stare at the sea. And I found it totally mesmerizing. How subtle shifts in the clouds changed the way the light hit the ocean, the way the weather moves like a room full of ballroom dancers, all moving together and yet somehow each part doing its own unique thing. My favorite of these is the one with the ship in it (in the bottom left-hand corner), so small and charging ahead into all that grey. It might be worth mentioning, too, that these shots are not in black & white. These are the greys of Newfoundland in all their glorious color.