This photo emerged from obscurity on the weekend. It wasn’t exactly lost, but it hadn’t seen the light of day for many years. The original is on a 36 x 24 millimetre piece of slide film that had been packed away for almost fifteen years.
Saturday was the day I finally decided to tackle a box that has been sitting in our living room, then upstairs hall, since my husband emptied our storage locker into our main floor last spring. The project was a response to our many unexpected consequences of COVID 19. It started as an expense to cut, and has continued as an ongoing purge.
Suddenly out of work, Tony was on a mission. Before I could exclaim “But where am I going to practice yoga?!?!?” our main floor was filled with seasonal furniture, decorations, seemingly endless boxes of paper, stuff we don’t use any more, and things we had forgotten but are using again.
It. was. a. process.
Four boxes remain. All mine. You know those boxes. The boxes that stay packed after a move. The ones that contain things you love but don’t really fit any more. Or that have so much in them it’s a project of its own.
This picture was living in one of the last boxes. The big, heavy box filled with every single slide I deemed worthy of keeping, a long time ago.
I remember my thoughts when I took this photo. It April 2006. I was scrambling through a canyon in Summerland, British Columbia, when I noticed tiny bits of lichen growing on a graveyard of old sage roots and tree branches, likely discarded from the orchards above. The bones of the old growth were brittle and sharp as I waded in.
Setting up my tripod, I wondered who would want to look at all this dead stuff but me, but I persisted, positioning the camera, gathering the specks of bright new growth in the frame.
One of the delights of Saturday’s unboxing was taking a quick look at pages and pages of slides. I steeled myself and dove in to determine how much I can throw away, but I was greeted by my past creative self. She reared her head and forced me to take notice of how much care and attention had gone in to protecting the contents within.
I had tucked hundreds of slides into protective plastic sheets and light proof binders to keep them safe. A previous unboxing had unearthed my forgotten mini light table. I pulled it out from where I had stashed it, plugged it in, and turned it on. It’s just the right size to display a sheet of slides.
There really is nothing like the eye-popping effect of Velvia 50 meeting light. A rainbow of every imaginable colour of nature met my eyes for the first time in fifteen years. There’s a treasure trove to discover, scan and share, but one photo stood out as relevant for today. A quick check confirmed it was one of a handful I had scanned before boxing them away. The image matched my intent.
The idea I was trying to show through my lens that day so long ago was hope for renewal. It’s not really a picture of what’s dead and discarded. There, at the bottom of an obscure canyon, was new growth on top of what had been before.