Unless otherwise credited, all photographs are © David Ritchie and may not be used without permission.
Oct 22 Fall motorcycle rides are precious. The fickle weather of autumn swings on a pendulum, warm and sunny now can be quickly replaced with cold and rain, so rides are taken when opportunity presents itself.
Yesterday I enjoyed an excellent with two friends. We rode through some of our twisty roads circuits and then explored back roads, gravelled, bare dirt and some potholes too.
Roads are as unpredictable as life- no guarantees and make the most of what you have. It’s a calming ride with little traffic and more opportunity to look around. The trees were garbed in their most colourful wardrobes. If they were people, it could be said that the tarts were on parade. The scented air- smoke from leaf fires, manure feeding the fields for next year’s crops, and is that a skunk or a cannabis crop? The leaves and soil have a deep, earthy pong.
The air, scenery and mood demanded a slower pace. Notice the swirl of leaves in wake of the lead rider, squirrels cutting down walnuts, some of them onto the road- mind you don’t ride over them, they’re like ball bearings. Squirrel revenge for their road-killed mates?
Combines harvesting beans, some giant marvels of technology working massive acreage next to a smaller farm with older equipment gleaning at a slower pace. The aqua blue waters of Lake Erie wink through trees. Alongside a woodlot, the alternating sunlight and shadows like riding through a barcode.
Another scene is directly from Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows, drying corn substituting for wheat, but the crows are eternal. I’m often reminded of landscape paintings when I ride.
After the ride, big grins and happy comments. I christened it the ‘gravel road and pig shit tour’, just to keep us grounded.
Oct 20 Cemetery History. Last year I was asked to photograph a nearby cemetery- Dunboyne. The leaves had fallen and I did not want to present the cemetery as a grey, slightly creepy place. It is a lovely pastoral site, away from busy roads, with a rolling landscape. Dunboyne is almost 170 years old.
Put it off until spring, but I was still not satisfied with the ‘look’ of it- monotone green. Yesterday the atmosphere I was seeking was found in the morning light.
It took some time to find the right composition with perfect light. Patience was rewarded, and I found this next image. I think that it is a good companion to the photo of Talbot’s grave further down this page.
Dunboyne Cemetery 2019 A year in the making and worth the wait.
I have since learned that the sloping land in the background is paupers and unknown person plots, with some mystery attached.
Amongst the persons buried there are some who were shipwrecked and drowned off Port Bruce, the nearest village. It is said that they were indigenous, but facts are sketchy, the only reference is a pencil note on a map. It would be a good research project and should involve archaeologists plus very diligent archives searches.
Although traditional burial practises seem somewhat barbaric to me, the history of old cemeteries is appealing. They can be peaceful and pleasant places- the residents don’t complain.
Oct 14 Thanksgiving thoughts. We all have things to be thankful for, and this day should not be only about eating and drinking, but a time for reflection also.
Reflect on the fact that if you are born Canadian you are very fortunate. Sure, we have problems but the majority of those are ‘first-world problems’. We have health care to be thankful for- Tommy Douglas was a visionary man- something the majority of humanity lack. We have volunteer citizens who care for the less fortunate with food banks, meals on wheels and shelters for the homeless. Yes, there is much more needed but people do care.
On a personal level, I am grateful for good health and a loving family. I’m so glad that I don’t have to worry about my children. They have grown up to be successful adults who care for others. Many of my friends have not been so fortunate, which makes me even more aware of my situation- it must be terrible to spend sleepless nights worrying about one’s children.
I am thankful to have access to clean water and an abundance of food, a good dog who warms my heart constantly, friends to share both good times and bad. I’m thankful for still having the skills and faculties to ride a motorcycle after 55 years of adventure on two wheels.
There are many more reasons, of course, and I try to be mindful every day. It is so much more rewarding to be grateful for what we have than to bitch about the things that make our lives less than perfect. What are you thankful for?
That’s the positive position, now it’s time to talk about something we can all do to collectively make our world better. I will call it responsible and thoughtful recycling, a subject I tend to rant on.
Returning my empty crushed beer cans for recycling and the cash reward (deposit) for doing so, I noticed the boxes of glass bottles the previous customer returned all had the lids screwed back on. Do people think that is the proper way or is it habit? Do they assume that the lids are recycled along with the glass?
Stating my thoughts to the person behind the counter I was rewarded with a scowl. She told me that they have to remove the lids from each bottle and even worse, some customers return beer bottles with the lids snapped back on. Extremely difficult, time consuming and aggravating for the employees.
Now imagine the facilities where glass bottles arrive from municipal collecting, large loads of them. Can you imagine that there are hundreds of employees removing the lids from millions of bottles? Me neither, and I suspect that it ends up in a landfill, therefor taking another trip aboard a fuel-burning truck. No wonder recycling is expensive.
The same applies to plastic bottles. Walk down any street when the recycle boxes are out for pickup. Almost all the bottles have lids screwed back on. Those lids are hard plastic, certainly a different material and usually not recyclable (there is no symbol on them).
That scenario either makes for a contaminated product or another trip to the landfill. More expense and waste. We can do better with a little thinking about positive recycling.
Another point: the first of the three R’s in recycling is reduce, the most important. Second and equally important is reuse. Recycle is the last resort and must be done properly to be successful.
Oct 2 Excellent motorcycle riding with friends has been the focus this fall. The search for local history and new roads to ride has been the theme, including an ongoing search and research for Hurley fish tugs.
The tour to Port Stanley was a short ride, so I suggested to John that we visit the grave of Col. Thomas Talbot, the man who was granted thousands of acres in Elgin county (Upper Canada at the time) in the early 19th century, to dole out as he saw fit. The purpose was to settle the land, clear it, build roads and generally occupy with settlers of his choosing. Some called old Tom a tyrant and an opportunist. He was the godfather of Elgin county, ruling with an iron fist. Talbot visited each delegated plot of land a year after granting it and, if he wasn’t happy with the progress made, would boot the settlers off the land and give it to another. Thanks for your efforts, but piss off.
A year’s hard work lost. Hard work had a different meaning in those days. Isolated, half-starved and freezing in the dark forest- brutal, hostile conditions to endure.
The departed colonel’s grave is in St Peter’s Anglican Cemetery, one of the most pleasant graveyards I have seen. Very old- 1825 was the first burial- it is rolling land with some unique trees and a view of Lake Erie to the south. The church is still in use, a fine old wood building. I recommend it as a destination.
Talbot’s Grave 2019
Yesterday we rode to Long Point, another site of great historic events, shipwrecks being the most common. There are over 200 recorded wrecks in the treacherous waters. For a number of years, lake carved a channel bisecting the point from the inner bay to the open south side.
Known as the Old Cut, it was a relief for navigators who no longer needed to round the dangerous tip of the point. A lighthouse was built and everybody was happy until nature took back the passage, filling it with sand during a vicious storm.
The lighthouse remained, landlocked and useless, but fortunately maintained. Today it is a private residence and a credit to the family who keep it looking so fine. History is worth preserving, even if it must be done privately.
Lighthouse at the Old Cut, Long Point 2019
Scanners are wonderful tools. Great for copying documents and photos but they can be much more. I like to scan objects, both flat and three dimensional for the fine macro details the eye cannot see. It started in the first blog entry on Ever Clever Wilson. There were two examples posted.
A dead monarch butterfly found in the yard provided the current scan.
I was curious about the detail of the ‘feet’, which are actually hooks. Nasty looking tools that may seem out of place for a gentle creature, but nature is exactly like that- it’s no Disney-inspired world. More like Bambi with fangs.
Oct 3 A friend commented that there could be a loose parallel between my photo of Ladies on Dundas Street and the Clark McDougall painting Returning From Mass.
Flattery at any comparison aside (I’m a big fan of the great Clark McDougall), it is amusing. She said that the painting could be of the same two ladies returning home. The photo and painting were created just 3 years apart so the era is similar.
I find it interesting, in the same way that I found a rough comparison of the lady in my photo At The Ballpark 1990 and the Girl with Pearl Earring painting by Vermeer.
Serendipity, coincidence, happenstance: all describe the same odd and quirky comparisons.
Ladies On Dundas Street circa 1972
Returning From Mass, Clark McDougall 1969
Oct 6 For a good time call… just kidding, but I can recommend some time well spent- visit the current exhibits at the London (Ontario) Museum.
Ian MacEachern has a large exhibition of b&w photographic prints, “The Lost City“, taken in Saint John, NB in the 1960s.
Gritty, honest views of the north end and it’s people before and during a purge of the poorer parts of the city under the guise of urban renewal. The prints are superbly printed and artfully mounted in two galleries. There is an accompanying book available at the museum and online (Chapters, Amazon etc, the usual suspects). It is a fine book to add to your collection.
More early work from MacEachern is shown in “London Lens“, an exhibition shared with the late Don Vincent. Another regional look at history with many recognizable locations from downtown London when it was a vibrant, exciting place to be, with a strong flourishing art scene.
“Ways Of Being” by Australian Aboriginal artist Yhonnie Scarce and Canadian First Nations artist Michael Belmore is in a third gallery. It was a touch too minimalist for my taste but take a look for yourself.
“To Play in the Face of Certain Defeat” in a fourth gallery is described as “the works of Esmaa Mohamoud imaginatively re-purposes sports gear to re-examine understandings of contemporary Blackness.”
It is a dramatically lit exhibition, both powerful and colourful. The first piece seen at the entrance to the exhibit is powerful and immediately sets the tone for the rest. I really enjoyed her work.
To round out your tour, there are many images from the permanent collection of Londoners, London and national scenes spanning decades. Mounted in Victorian salon fashion, it can be a challenge to visually sort through the images but the reward is a both familiar and unknown (to me) view of London and of Canada and our many fine artists past and present.
Plan an afternoon to absorb some art- it’s good for the soul, and will provoke many memories of the past contrasted with the contemporary art world. The current exhibits are displayed until January 2020. Exit through the gift shop.
For additional back pages see drop-down arrow under “Ritchie’s Rants”