Friday, February 29, 2008

Skylight


Look to the sky
London, Ontario, January 2008 [Click to embiggen]


The scene: Westmount Mall on a frigid Saturday afternoon. I'm here with our two youngest munchkins to run some errands until it's time to fetch my wife from the hairdresser. It's about as forgettable a scene as an average family will have on an average day in suburbia. Well, forgettable in the conventional sense.

That's because I have my camera. And I've got some alone time with two of our kids. They won't be this small forever, so we head over to the Laura Secord for some ice cream (shh, don't tell my wife) and then plop ourselves down on a bench in the central square to munch, rest and observe.

I take pictures of them and of our surroundings, trying to tell this little story of this little moment on this cloudy afternoon. Because I never seem to take a normal photo, I eventually find myself leaning way back, shooting straight up at the massive skylight that bathes the nearly deserted mall with light. They laugh at me because I always end up taking nutty pictures with my camera. It's the laugh of children who take the same kinds of pictures whenever they pick up their own cameras.

It's a beautiful place to be, but they both ask why it's empty, why the fronts of so many stores are covered with paper. I briefly think about explaining how malls killed local stores, and now big box stores are now killing the malls. I want them to learn about the relentlessly restless consumer economy, the sense of place that marked my own childhood that now seems all but lost.

But that's a lesson for another day. For now, I get to watch our son eat ice cream with his older sister while we spend some rare quiet time together. Sometimes, just letting them enjoy the moment is enough.

Your turn: A quiet, seemingly ordinary moment that stands out in your life. Please discuss.

23 comments:

Awareness said...

today i was home to greet my children at the end of their school day........which is rare as a working mom. in fact it only really happens when i'm home sick, or if i've managed to finish work early.....

important small moments are what matter........

i also find they happen while driving in the van......many good conversations occur then.

michele sent me tonight Carmi, but i would've found my way here anyways.

THE BLUEST BUTTERFLY said...

I see a lot of dying malls.

Diane Mandy said...

Would you mind if I discuss skylights for a moment instead? MINE IS LEAKING AS I TYPE.

Thanks. I just had to get it off my chest. :-)

The Mistress of the Dark said...

A few weeks ago I was at work and staring out the window of my office trailer when a huge flock of birds flew through...there were hundreds. It reminded me of Hitchcock, but they were so beautiful. I just stood and stared out the window until they left.

Anna said...

Nice shot. I have taken so many like this and I am fascinated every time I look up and find a gem like this.

Finn said...

I have many of those moments, usually when I take my nine-year-old son out to dinner or lunch and it's just the two of us. We really talk -- about everything.

Laurie said...

NJ is nothing but shopping centers, strip Malls, and mega Malls. There is definitely no lack of shopping around here...So much shopping and so many crowds...I avoid it like the plague!

I love unusual angles and this is a nice geometric shot.

My kids are at the age where I am a constant source of embarrassment when I break out the camera in their presence. The say I'm "Camera Obsessed"...I don't know what they are talking about.

R. Sherman said...

Some year ago, on my daughter's 14th birthday, she and I took a longish hike in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (Profile photo from that day.) We paused for a snack of canned tuna and just sat for 10 or 15 minutes listening to the wind and watching the grass and clouds, while the sky spit rain occasionally.

One of the best days of my life.

Cheers.

joe said...

Hi. Michele sent me today.

I'll have to think about some quiet, ordinary moments from the past but a very recent one was just two days ago when I was over at my girlfriend's house and we were sitting on the couch watching TV: me, her, and her 2 year old daughter sleeping in her arms. It was one of those moments that reminded me that quiet and ordinary are what life is all about.

craziequeen said...

I love the mental image of you snapping away at your children, creating a pictorial memory of their youth for them to look back on and say 'that was the day we went shopping with mom and dad and dad took photos of the sky!'

I wish I had pictorial memories like that, but our family life was not a photo-taking one. There are photos, but photos were more an event than an everyday record.

Having a hug with LMD Aginoth was a seemingly normal event that people passing by cooed over - but only her family and I knew she screamed at me for the first 2 1/2 years of her little life - and the first cuddle was a world-stopping event.

Thank you, Carmi love, for bringing that image into my head. You always know which buttons to press.....

cq

ps Michele sent me to say have a good weekend :-)

kenju said...

The quiet ordinary moments we have when the grandchildren and their parents are here, and we are eating a meal together, are the times I seem to remember the most. I gues it is the nurturer in me.

MIchele sent me today, Carmi. I hope you don't get buried in the snow!

Heidi said...

Ahhh... a "mall moment" comes to my mind, too. We had just moved back to Des Moines, a place I had lived before, but before kids. School had not yet started, but my husband had started his job. The boys and I were on our own... and while it was a familiar place from my past, I was here in the mall with my boys as a mom. It was lonely, as there were no familiar faces for me. But it was also all so full... my boys were with me and we were making new tracks as a family. Sitting outside the cookie place, having a snack that *Shhh! Don't tell their dad about that!* :-)

Linda said...

I love "looking up" photos! What we MISS when we don't look around a bit.

Michele sent me to admire your photo again today!

WendyWings said...

My life is all about the ordinary moments. I still walk our youngest to the busstop every morning even though I don't need to but it seems to be one of her favourite times with me and I know soon enough there is no way she will walk down the driveway hanging onto my hand and kissing me goodbye when she gets on the bus.
Michele sent me today but I was going to come anyway and say thank you for your words on my last blog entry :)

Sara said...

Hello, Michele sent me to say that my electric went out and I had to wait to get back here to you!

Small moments of clarity are about all I have with my mom...and it is really hard to see this happening with her.

D.O.M. Dan said...

How about two quite moments? First, a brief chat with my 14-year old son while driving him to his religious education class. He's not one to talk much with me about anything, but does have a very healthy communication bond with his mom. Second, a very pleasant conversation with my 7-year old daughter and her friend while the three of us ate ice cream.

Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day Carmi. I really appreciate your comments.

sister AE said...

I don't remember what kind of ice cream I used to get on rare trips to hard ice cream places with my dad, but I know he always asked them for pistachio.

Sleepypete said...

Not so sure about quiet moments that stand out but I can identify with the wonderings about shops with the paper covering up their windows ...

The most interesting things to shop for come from the little shops that sell things other than the things the marketingmen think we want to buy. The curiosity shops and the specialist shops.

With more Malls around, those little shops seem to be dying off - even places like the two Gadget shops in our local Mall here have closed. We've got another one recently opened but I don't think much of it.

The big stores don't seem to have the inspiration of the little ones. We'll see what we get in the future and in the meantime, there's Amazon !

Michele sent me today :-)

Bob-kat said...

Yes, it's the ordinary moments that count - just spending time with people you love doing nothing special, like eating icecream are moments to savour.

Love the pic BTW - the sky throught the gridwork of the skylight looks fantastic.

Michele thinks so too.

Sleepypete said...

Coming back in 10 mins to see if the playing with tv cameras post is up :-)

Michele sent me

tommie said...

so glad Michelle sent you my way again this weekend....it's funny two weekends in a row.

My stolen moments in time in the weekend with the babes include anything that is not the norm, but will seal a memory on their little brains.....a trek through the 'forest', a sprinkle party with the water hose, a picnic in the living room, a cupcake party on a Tuesday....anything beyond the norm....anything to keep them on their toes. I have to be two steps ahead of them, at ALL times!

happy weekend!

Sharon said...

Carmi, I was just in Toronto last week and wow, is it ever cold there.

I think one night I was there the temperature dropped to -20.

It's a beautiful city though.

colleen said...

A simple porch vacation with the wind chimes singing.