Blue Lichen Grows on Birch Tree

This post is about a photograph I took late this last summer. I'd gone for a walk on friends' property on Lake Opinicon, about an hour's drive north of Kingston. The photograph, and the taking of it, were a precursor to a conceptual project I am embarking on today on landscape and citizenship.

2017 will see me working fully on this project, photographing and painting using Southern Ontario's and Ireland's inland waterways as my subject, and attempting to translate what I see into words. Sounds odd, or simple, doesn't it! But it isn't really.

Although I've lived here for a long time, I've seen the landscape like an outside, like a tourist, and I want to change that. I want to change it so I can write it- write about it, around it, out of it, without relying on borrowed words. Of course I know what a tree looks like, but I don't know , for instance, what a tiny patch of the bark of that local tree- a tree I see every day, but don't really notice- looks like. Until I took the following photo I hadn't ever noticed that those curly blue- pale cerulean blue- lichen badges bloom on the birch trunks. And I do not know- I mean, really know- the seasons of a leaf here- the sumach, for instance- and I don't know what lives under the rocks or pebbles on the banks of a river, or in the sand of the dunes, or how to describe or talk about the mosses and algae on the lily pads of a choking lake. Or what is the exact palette of the lake water here.

It's a new language I mean to learn, and one in which I'd like to write. Hence the project. So the photo: it was taken as an experiment, part of the preliminary work to help me conceptualise the project- the work that! Happy New Year!

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