Sunday, September 29, 2013
A Perfectly Ordinary Ride
Every route into town is familiar, intimate. Mental notes on every jarring pothole and road seam, trees dropping walnuts and osage oranges, hiding places for police cars and intersections known for drivers running stops signs and traffic lights. If you ride long enough.
Ride even longer and the characters along the road come to life as well. Like this Belgian draft horse at Oak Hall Farm. Trotting over each time I stop to take a picture -- a bit unnerving to have 2000 pounds of horse giving you the once over with only a few strands of wire between us. If we were properly introduced and the owner approved I would offer a slice of the Honeycrisp apple stowed in my topcase. Few words exchanged between us aside from a soft, "Hey bud, why the long face?".
A moment more to consider the fog, make a few more images, and then off towards town and Saint's Cafe. A perfectly ordinary ride until I take a moment to look a little closer and say hello to a horse.
Fog offers one of the few reliable environments to experiences something too strange to believe. Like seeing spirits or ghosts, aliens or Big Foot. If there is magic in the world it will surely involve fog.
Imagination forges doorways in perception that allow imagination to burn forth and transform a perfectly ordinary ride into something special.
Off in the distance, at the foot of Mount Nittany, I can almost see a mountain lion cross the road and disappear into the forest. Some believe they still prowl the Pennsylvania forests. If they do then surely their existence will be confirmed on a foggy day.
Photographically speaking fog strips away much of the tonal and color experiences of life leaving behind form, shape, composition and the hint of something more beyond perception. I've ridden past these gravel piles a hundred times, maybe a thousand. And each time I stop and look I imagine something new, like a kid laying in the grass on a summer day looking at clouds and seeing giants.
The new front rack looks good in this dream on a perfectly ordinary ride.
Can't help but think of scenes from The Walking Dead. Empty roads disappearing into the unknown. The story would be different in the sunshine, a different perfectly ordinary ride.
Sunday morning at Saint's Cafe in State College, Pennsylvania -- a destination for, by now, hundreds of perfectly ordinary rides to meet my friend Gordon, talk about photography, teaching and the work and world we construct.
The morning started with a whisper today, the world spinning up slowly giving me time to take it in. As it was on the Vespa during a perfectly ordinary ride.
Finished watching "Long Way Down" and thought about my own experience in light of that film. Adventure lies close and circumstance dictates the rides I make. That's ok.
I don't believe I've yet scratched the surface in terms of seeing and experiencing the world just outside my door. And that's why a perfectly ordinary ride is still so rich.