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