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

Damn Cute in Brighton, Photo Ted Amsden Photography ©2021
A Teddy Bear Front Yard Picnic. And they are playing chess! They must be very smart bears.

There is nothing at the end of any road better 
				than may be found beside it. 
			          Edward Thomas (1878 - 1917)

I want to give a TED Talk today. About Wellness. I am not going to talk directly about the subject as no poet worth his weight in metaphors should ever speak directly about any topic.

Instead, I will talk about photography and motorcycling.

As many of you will have immediate difficulty wondering how riding between two dangerously spinning wheels while sitting on top of an oven-hot engine is healthy, please consider just one of the benefits. Riding is a good source of protein. Any twilight, whilst going a minimum of 80 kph, the average motorcyclist has only to open his/her/their mouth and like any whale who has swum into a school of fish, they can harvest a generous mouthful of protein-packed insects.

Yum. Yum. There’s a lot of good news in the press about benefits of eating insects.

My Transpo, Photo Ted Amsden Photography ©2021. This is the second of the three motorcycles that I have tooled around Northumberland on. Unfortunately, I had to write it off on County Road 30 in September of 2020 due to a moment of self-absorption when I should have been paying attention to the road.

Now that I have dealt with the health benefits of riding, ignoring the fun of pavement traversing at ridiculous speeds, so low to the road that should one crash one is instantly salsa, as well as not talking about enjoying an uninterrupted 180 degree view at any moment unobscured by roof, windshield, stupid doors, etc., also not mentioning the absolute joy of catapulting oneself furiously forward while making a noise guaranteed to irritate all those that would probably irritate oneself should one give them the time of day, I shall now talk about the health benefits of taking a few snaps.

Other one bites the dust, Photo Ted Amsden Photography ©2021
Too expensive to renew. And usually to no purpose. Although I did have a chat with one Big City transplant who always wanted a barn and now on Old Wooler Road, you can see the new wood adorning her love project.

But first, the COVID thing… That little inflamed ball with the thorns sticking out of it that they insist on visualizing with the most lurid colours. The threat of which invading my body had me squirrelled down deeper than a hoarder snuggled into his basement collection of fifty-year-old newspapers and plastic bags for many many months.

Well, let me tell you, I was depressed. I could only last four or five days before I had to go crashing out of the house. The LCBO people were very kind. They listened. They stared. They said goodbye politely. But nobody, NOBODY, got my jokes.

Passage of Time, Photo Ted Amsden Photography ©2021
These signs at the Scout Camp on County Road 45 have been taken down. I record images with intention that they fit into a category that I explore in its variety at leisure on my computer.

With no souls in my house but for the mice for months on end, I was at my wits end. I find the mice with their heads in a trap have little to say for themselves.

So, in the Spring of 2020, sick and tired of watching my clothes do somersaults (my clothes were very clean during that period), I took to my bike. For ye olde shits ‘n’ giggles, I took along my camera not knowing why or what I intended to do with it.

On A Clear Day You Can See…Photo Ted Amsden Photography ©2021
Anybody that goes between Roseneath and Cty Road 25 along County Road 24 knows this corner. On a clear day you can see the cell towers near Brighton.

Some of you know, I was at one time in everyone’s face locally taking pics for two of the smallest dailies in the Western Hemisphere. Back then, to get a break from shooting grainy B+W images of little school yard nose pickers and snake-tongued politicians, I would, on a Saturday morning or a Sunday, forget that I was married and get lost driving the roads of Northumberland.

I found great comfort exposing colour slide film which some of you seniors will remember are those little white bordered images with the pleasing realistic colours that showed you back in old timey days looking pretty goofy.

I travelled many miles back then on Northumberland roads. Do you know the County has 500 kilometres of sparkly asphalt, sorta asphalt, sorta-looks-like asphalt, oil ‘n’ stone, gravel, crappy dirt and just-sand roads?

Hyperlocal Food Stands, Photo Ted Amsden Photography ©2021
One of the delights of driving down many side roads is coming upon small roadside stands selling produce, flowers and handicrafts. Most have honour boxes. And signs to read. Just the other day, I came upon a family of mannequins dressed in farm wear wired up to the fence beside the family’s roadside produce stand. And, of course, they all had their masks on.

The result of those happy days lost on side and even unmaintained roads, is a shed full of slides I have to deal with before I kick the bucket. Yay! Something to do when I get really old.

Fast forward to 2020, there I was mounting up on the old bike and hitting the roads again just like back in newspaper days when I went photo-walkabout, taking snaps of whatever caught my fancy.

Triptych, Photo Ted Amdsen Photography ©2021
Just like the old days of road signs alerting you to an attraction ahead, this Elizabethville resident teased passing motorists coming along County Road 9. The payoff was not just any old container holding what one presumed were the worms, but what looked like the family’s picnic cooler holding the regally named, Self-Serve Worms.

Damn if doing that didn’t lift my COVID depression. Like WHOA! Call me Gene Autry — Whoopi-ty-aye-oh! — “I was back in the saddle again… Out where a friend is a friend!”

Such was my enthusiasm, I put on 40,000 kilometres over three months and gathered over 4,000 single images, Yupper, I really dug down into that project which I didn’t realize was one until I was too deep to pull myself out. Can’t say I travelled all of Northumberland’s 500 kilometres but went down a lot of roads I have never seen before.

(To be continued next Friday)

Bringing in the Hay, Photo Ted Amsden Photography ©2021
Biking south of Morganston, I saw two men moving hay around and thought I would check out what they were doing. This late afternoon image captures the delight of the sun without having to include it which is always a challenge.

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

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Carol Shaw says:

    Always admired Ted’s photographic skills – even when taking those “grainy” pictures for two small newspapers! This is a beautiful collection of Northumberland’s loveliness, and all captured with good humour! Thanks, Ted.

  2. Diane Taylor says:

    Loved the energy in the writing, and the photos of back roads Northumberland.

  3. Patricia Calder says:

    Very interesting reading + great photos.

  4. A fabulously engaging post. Interesting photos, every one. I enjoyed every line, every bit of whimsy, humour, and unexpected turn in the road. I appreciate your love for motorbikes, Ted, (can’t believe I rode one during my teen years – a massive Triumph 750 that belonged to a friend). Sorry about the motorbike accident in 2020, though. Hope you weren’t badly hurt.

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