Country Road Jitters

It’s a very good thing to have a tripod and a remote shutter release. There are those times, especially the night shots that depend on long exposure, that photos are easily ruined by the human bodies reaction to stimuli. Such occasions may be due to tiredness. It’s the middle of the night, the adrenaline of the anticipated chase has worn off, and a day filled with middle school students in various stages of immaturity begins to take its toll. Other times it’s Jack Frost doing his darnedest to send me packing. Although I think I have dressed in the  commensurate numbers of layers required, the chill finds its way to my very core (and indeed, in this case, Corr) and my body shakes uncontrollably as the caveman part of my brain attempts to compensate for my body’s lowering temperature by making me shiver…a lot…and somewhat violently. The level of discomfort tolerated is proportionately equal to the strength of the dance. Waiting for the density to rise, the BZ’s to head north, and the solar wind to deliver on its promise requires a level of commitment and preparation for disappointment that brings images of Robert Peary striking out for the North Pole only to find out he was bested by Frederick Cook. And then, there are the jitters…
The jitters attack after the vehicle is parked, the gear set up, and all light extinguished – the nearest yard light a kilometre down the road, a mere pinpoint of humanity. Alone, on a country road…it’s just me and the camera and lady Aurora dancing overhead. Her beauty entrances me utterly until the first call of the coyote…the first rustle heard along the ditch…the slight wind tickling the back of my neck…or the hoot of an owl as it hunts for mice and moles. The imagination starts to kick in…sound carries but can I convince myself coyotes are really a great distance? If the Lady is strong that night, I am too busy with settings and angles and capturing the dance to fully be aware of my surroundings – not necessarily a good thing for my health and safety. Other nights, as I await the dance to start or strengthen, all these little sounds start to form the basis of my very own horror movie playing in my head for this audience of one. On more than one occasion it has driven me to pack up and head home – not because I have witnessed an actual threat, but perception ruled. 
This photo, that I call “The Curtain Falls”, was taken in late spring after an unexpected and unwelcome dump of snow.  The ditches were still snow capped with mounds of the spring snow pushed there by graders. The Lady deigned not to put on much of a show that night and as I stood with camera poised in hope, I could hear rustling. My imagination took over and I imagined all sorts of critters lurking just beyond my night vision. My hear rate escalated as I tried to reason with myself. I made sounds to alert any potential threats that there was a human present so that they not be surprised to find me in their path. As I listened, the sound appeared steady…not like an animal at all. In fact, it turned out to be the spring melt flowing along underneath the snowbanks that edged both sides of the country lane ditches. I relaxed and turned back to the task at hand only to be totally startled moments later by the collapse of said snowbanks as they imploded down into the ditch along the foreseeable length of the road. The entire snow shelf gave way in the collapse. I screamed. My body gave me no other options to address the shock of the event. Immediately I realized what had transpired and that I  was safe…and then I got the giggles. If there was a pack of coyotes nearby they likely made the decision that I should not be approached under any circumstance – no matter how hungry they may have been at the time (mad cow disease likely flitted through their minds). There was a farmer’s field to my right and I often wonder if my scream and subsequent giggles in the middle of the night sent him searching his fields for a body the next day.
This is one of my favourite photos. The odd cloud looking very much like a curtain being dropped to uncover the heavens behind…there is a smudge that is the Andromeda galaxy to the left of the burgeoning Milky Way. The lady is dressed in a wisp of light green to the right, over the farmer’s field. It appears as though daylight is giving way to night as the great sheet slips off a canvas.  While moments of fright and a fanciful imagination can wreck havoc on a serene view, I am forever grateful for the canvas and the muse that is the Lady Aurora and for the strength to persevere when conditions suggest Netflix is a more viable option on a cold winter evening…

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