For reasons I don’t need to go into here, so I won’t, I’ve had a bit of a hard time of it in the last few weeks. Depression is a bastard. Anyhow, I gave myself permission to go out today with a couple of cameras, along “my” stretch of the River Medway not far from home, in the hope that, as so many times before, it would spread its calming influence on me.
Given that I’ve been photographing this area regularly for about five years, it surprised me to find that my records showed it was over six weeks since my last visit to anywhere along the six miles or so that make up “my patch”. I’m usually away from home during much of September, though not this year. As a result, I was seeing familiar sights as I’d never quite viewed them before – summer’s green just fading, but no sign of autumn, nor of autumn’s clear air. Everything felt heavy and impenetrable. The sky was mostly grey, with just occasional character, and the sun was just failing to push through. Had I not felt that I needed this outing, the conditions wouldn’t have tempted me out.
The one thing in the day’s favour was the stillness in that heavy air. Reflections were perfect in the calm, and I made for a spot that must by now have become familiar to readers of this blog. I’ve unashamedly used elements from it on several occasions. One shot taken there is also the principal motif for my upcoming exhibition. Another, from early spring, is the header photo to this current blog. However, I was in for an unexpected shock.
My favourite spot had simply gone. That’s right – gone. It was a little promontory right at water level, prone to becoming a bit overgrown and muddy, occasionally used by anglers and frequently by me. Some work had been undertaken to clear the luxuriance of nettles, hogweed and other nasties away from parts of the river path hereabouts, and I needed to bash a way through a few yards of overgrowth to try to find the tiny path to the spot. Yet suddenly, there was nothing. Just water where it hadn’t been on the last time I visited. It seemed that the area I had grown to love – no more than a few square yards – had been submerged or washed away, even though the river was, if anything, below its normal level.
Only a few weeks ago, I’d been drafting some notes to accompany the photos in my exhibition. I’d lamented not having yet shot this spot with the perfect combination of still water, good sky and one of the local swans in the right place! I’d ended the note with the words “There will be other days…” Well, not now, there won’t.
I had a friend who frequently commented “Nothing’s for ever”, and at times it’s been a strangely consoling personal philosophy. It’s going to add just a touch of something (not even sure what yet) to my exhibition to know that this will make some of the images literally unrepeatable. In one sense, that always happens, because you can never recreate the moment you pressed the shutter, etc. Being literally unable to stand at the spot you used adds another dimension. It was such a great point to shoot from. Joni Mitchell’s words, from “Big Yellow Taxi” seem quite apt for this blog’s title.
All is going well, by the way, for my exhibition in November. I’ve taken delivery of fliers and posters for the show, printing is all finished, and framing is about to begin.
Here’s the flier. I hope you can pay a visit: