Saturday, December 29, 2018

Staring at trees across the highway

Stand tall
Woodstock, ON
December 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We've been spending entirely too much time driving the length of Ontario's Highway 401 lately. I guess I'd be OK with it if the reasons were happy, but they haven't been. When the destination at the other end of the highway is a cemetery, a hospital, a place you'd do anything to avoid, the normal appeals of a road trip with your favorite people seem to lose their lustre.

On this cold pre-Christmas morning, I found myself, again, using photography to find the light in a linear space that otherwise has none. This seemingly ordinary line of trees stood across six lanes of highway at the Woodstock OnRoute service station. The weather, as usual, wasn't cooperating, casting a grey pall over the proceedings and, worse, a slick sheet of dirty ice over the roadway. Thanks to Mother Nature's silliness, it had already been a tense drive, and we had put barely 60 km in our rearview.

I stood beside the car and zoomed the camera across the highway, looking for something that would help me remember this particular moment of this particular drive. The wind cut into me from the left, and it was at that moment that I noticed the trees themselves had a bit of a lean, most likely because of the prevailing winds that blow in from frame-left. Even here, in this desolately grey landscape ruined by a superhighway, Mother Nature was painting the landscape, making it clear, despite the concrete and dirt and noise and human-powered mayhem all around us, that she was still in charge.

This photo is merely one of countless shots I stole quickly as we moved from there to here. If any single photo has the power to separate this particular trip from the others, I'm hoping this is the one. This, apparently, is how I tell our family's story now.

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