There is nothing at the end of any road better by Ted Amsden (Part Two)

Smallest chapel in Northumberland, Photo © Ted Amsden Photography
Just off County Road 30. And, yes, I have pics of inside where you, too, can take a moment.

After about a month in, I realized it was time to get a bit arty and include some documentary lingo in my thinking. Because, you see, it was obvious I was already waist deep in images, and going where none have gone before. At present, I have over 200 images of mailboxes, 700 signs, many series of fields, waterways, gates, roads, vegetation, sky, clouds, abandoned gas stations, buildings, bridges and much more, all Northumberland and only Northumberland. How does one manage and present such a collection? Working on it. Will let you know. I have created not a complete but quite an overview of the County with more than a few images allowing me to claim the record covers 30 years.

Part documentary, part happy snaps, part ironic statement, part photo record, part art project…

Not Open Anytime Soon, Photo © Ted Amsden Photography
Looking like guests are coming back tomorrow, the interior of a closed restaurant in Roseneath is one of several I photographed.

The fact is, being out in the sun, the wind, Northumberland’s big sky always over me, surrounded by rolling hills, puttering through forests, staring at rivers, riding fast over hill ‘n’ dale roads, was the perfect antidote to feelings of depression and isolation. Those days of putting my camera shutter finger on “continuous” revived me. The archive of images I have that is choking my computer is over the top. I know what you are thinking: just another senior gone gaa gaa spending too much time alone. Yeah. Whatever.

River View in Hoard’s Station, Photo © Ted Amsden Photography
There’s not much there but for some reason, I love the name. This image was taken during a very unique two-week period, mid-summer when the clouds were fantastic.

Allow me to mention just the other day, not to make a point about my photog chutzpah, but to get to the point of this Wellness TED Talk. I was up on Minnetonka Road, north of County Road 18, where you get a 120-degree looksee of the County and Rice Lake. I was there for over two hours as one of my projects is recording the panoramic views of the County in multiple images sandwiched together to give twenty-foot panoramas (I got dozens of ‘em’!). The scene probably took 35 images to record. I repeated the process with a different lens, a different location, at both lower and higher heights. During that time, I really looked at the surroundings. I now have a Preview-quality memory of that lookout view. I noted the boats on the distant water, the birds in the air, the distant gravel pit that wasn’t there several years ago as well as the sounds coming from it, the nighttime passage of a forest animal, the sky, the heat, the road, the vegetation near my feet, the people who passed me and more.

Those Funny Little Buildings, Photo © Ted Amsden Photography
You see these little sentry constructions at the end of driveways. This one has been upgraded since I took this image. Funny thing is, I have yet to see anyone standing in them presumably waiting for the school bus. Probably, because I don’t ride my motorcycle in the winter.

Photography is just an excuse to get off the motorcycle or in your case get out of the car, to stop and smell the roadside, look at the clouds, stare at the fields, listen to the water rushing by, hear the birds.

God is in the details as you know. Which is reward sufficient. If you don’t feel better any time after stopping for longer than a New York minute, I will give you 10% off the cost of your next prescription for mental health (pls. note: conditions apply).

Roadside Shrines, Photo © Ted Amsden Photography
Surprisingly, there are quite a few in Northumberland. They tell a sad story of usually younger people who have died tragically. Some are renewed monthly, some yearly. Some after a couple of years, look threadbare and forgotten. And then one year, they are no longer there.

Wellness comes naturally to those who stop, look around and let the elements of the natural world invade their consciousness. Northumberland, my friends, is one calming, rejuvenating piece of this troubled planet. If you are not aware of this, give your head a shake.

Roadside Fun, Photo © Ted Amsden Photography
Signs in Northumberland can be quite entertaining. Here is an example.

My suggestion for wellness also involves looking at what people do. The County’s inhabitants are industrious, quirky and judging by their mail boxes and front yards humorous people who are constantly reaching out to passersby. There is much they do that entertains, instructs and teaches.

Bridging the Decades, Photo © Ted Amsden Photography
This bridge over the Trent River is a delight to walk across and consider its construction. So many bolts were used in its construction! There is a sign telling you when it was built and when it was refurbished.

In summation, for you to enjoy feelings of wellness, travel Northumberland roads. Get off of the beaten path that leads to home or work. Stop whenever, wherever. Get out of your car. Look around for longer than it takes to grab a cellphone pic. And listen. Sniff the air. Touch something. Stare into the distance just to see what you can see.

You will feel much better for it. I guarantee it or this hasn’t been a TED Talk.

Sun going down, Photo © Ted Amsden Photography
At the border of Cramahe Township and Brighton, on County Road 27 in 2020, for about a month, I regularly drove up to watch the sun go down. A gesture that repeatedly reminded me of the Ex and I when we lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, when we would smoke some fantastic Mexican weed after a hard day of being tourists and watch the sun set over the western mountains. Each day in June leading up to the summer solstice, standing in the same spot, I measured the movement of the sun to the north according to its position next to a bush that the County has since cut down.

Ted Amsden is a photojournalist and Cobourg Poet Laureate Emeritus. You can see more of his photographs here.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. ronaldmackay says:

    Thanks for the second TED Talk — just as refreshing as the first!

  2. Patricia Calder says:

    Great photos, Ted. Quirky commentary. An enjoyable read.

  3. felicity936 says:

    Fantastic posts, Ted. Something big and wonderful will surely come out of this project!

  4. What a remarkable treasure trove of photos to have, Ted. Looking forward to the curated series!

  5. Karen Johnston says:

    I hope your photos include some of your motorcycle Ted and all those amazing roads of Northumberland.

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