Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.
– John Lennon
When I think back on past adventures and life chapters the things I miss or enjoy recalling most are often the things I don’t have photos of. The absolutely mundane things. Walks I took every day past things that didn’t stand up to being photographed. Bus shelters. Library entrances. Constructions that were unfinished or broken or started discussions. The kitsch art prints on the restaurant wall. The friendly woman who sold me diet coke. The way a staircase looked in the afternoon light. The people I always saw, unposed, in the places I always saw them.
I had the idea, back when I was leaving University, that I should take photos of these things, because one day I’d forget them and one day they’d be changed. Or gone completely. I had this thought walking to my part-time job as a waitress at a cafe, spotting the pool sign I always noticed and that for some reason amused me. Now I cannot remember whether it was a sign for a pool (or some other public feature) and I don’t know why it amused me. So, many years later, living in Vancouver, I finally took up the idea and before we moved away went out and snapped a bunch of boring photos. I made a photo-book as fast as I could with the pics, knowing I’d procrastinate, lose them or over-think how dull they were. The resulting book is full of things like: buckets of cheap flowers sold at the store across the street, B1 sitting on a fence in our local park, a path, a crow perched on a sign, the roof of my favourite market, a stump on a forest walk, the best fish and chips shop, people waiting to cross on our street corner and snow covered cars. We sit with the book and our Canadian-born B1 and tell the stories behind the poorly shot photos. It’s one of our favourite things to do.
Being fascinated by the ordinary is probably a key criteria in a blogger’s job description. “Noticing”. We were the kids that sat at the lounge door when we were supposed to be in bed, listening to our parents chat about their day. We actually like photos of other people’s toddlers stomping through puddles, the higgledy-piggledy pile of books by their bed or their feet in a new pair of sandals juxtaposed against bright spring grass. We’re into that ****.
(I know, it’s weird, but you’re reading this so that makes you part of the club – *secret & overly elaborate handshake*)
So, in the spirit of Noticing, I recently lugged my camera along during a super-ordinary day with the girls. I took photos of dull, daily things. Kindy drop off, kindy pick up, putting B2’s hair into pigtails, playing with finger puppets, the playground, the beach, watching television. I took the same approach as I did with the Vancouver book (bearing in mind another photo-book project that is clocking up two years of unfinished-ness) and chucked tons of snaps into photo-book format at break-neck speed. I left it a day, went back and made edits, then hit publish. This is the result.
I called it “Our Day” and it’s simply photos without explanations (barring a few quotes from the girls). It’s just a regular day from waking back to sleeping with no posing allowed. While taking the photos I tried to interfere as little as possible, unless it involved safety i.e. “stay away from the cliffs!” and rarely asked them to look at me. Excepting the bulk and inconvenience of the camera and near-fatal rocks-falling-from-cliffs incidents it was really great fun.
The girls will get a copy of the book each and I’m hoping they treasure it. Given their ages it’s unlikely they’ll recall much detail from this time of their lives so it’s probably me, Mama, that will pore over it and reminisce. And though a similar day will happen next week and the week after I can tell already that I am going to love looking at this book over and over and over again. It already gives me a deeper appreciation of the moments that happen “while you are busy making other plans” and how the girls childhoods continue to hurtle by. There is a reason for the cliches.
Wishing the very best ordinaries to fill your day. The same old cup you have your coffee in. The cheek your dog lays against your foot. The book you have almost finished. The child that requires her sticky fingers to be cleaned. The person that says “Hey!” like you’re the nicest thing they’ve seen all morning.
PS. A new ordinary for us around here – we have a surprise guest blogger joining us from next week. She will be posting while Ria is on a maternity break and next Monday I will give the official introductions, Fork and Fiction style. Stay tuned…