Category Archives: Travel

The McLaughlin Wildlife Reserve Bay: before the rainstorm.

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One cold Sunday afternoon in early October, instead of settling cozy at home, I was driving to the audition held in Oshawa. Smooth 40 minutes, as Google maps and my boyfriend promised, turned into the nerve-wracking long tiresome ride while I cursed myself for going all this way for bloody Charles Dickens.. And the play was cancelled just few days later, being replaced by another one where I did not fit in any way.

 

Yet no way I regret going there, as I discovered magical spot and I want to share its beauty with you. It was my first time in Oshawa region, and true to my traditional preferences, I decided to uncover its nature first for myself, and then the urbanite life (which I even did not get chance to admire). So then it was McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve, filled with peaceful surroundings, marshes, few hundreds of trees’ & plants’ varieties, unusual sounds, dozen trails and freshness.

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Judge for yourself. I arrived to the park closer to 6pm, not knowing that the rainstorm was on its way, however the whole park had that special light about it when the part of sky is blue but you sense tension in the air. I’m happy I found myself there exactly at that time, alone (I met only two people who were just leaving the park) and anxious, although I would not recommend
anybody going there solo as I did so late and just before the storm.

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Anyway, as soon as you step onto the long path that is losing itself in some tall grass and bushes, the quite falls on you. Like a shadow. You might see only a strip of water (part bay, part lake), but then you begin to hear the wind which progresses in its noise level as you approach bayshore.

I was lucky to catch the last fall paints over the park.

 

 

 

 

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The sky’s clouded with stormy features within few  minutes..

Nice hidden spot for picnic time…

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The area is a gem for birdwatchers, although I believe most of birds were on their way to a bit cozier and warmer places.

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A tiny pine island which I labeled “one morose hedgehog on the water”.

 

 

 

And the best final surprise is revealing itself in the most unsuspected way.

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The Bay in all its glory..

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The enormous waves were crashing onto the beach with loud drumming noise– and the strong wind just contributed extra touch to the whole atmosphere of chaos and cacophony.

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As I always like to experiment with black and white photography, here is my recent attempt at the bay — almost achieved the effect of silver grass:)

 

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Together with pathlets,
Together with trees,
The soul is aspired, exulting, into the distances…
And waves of mountains, and a mirror of a bay,
And the quiet of the sky in the silent earth.

– Maximilian Voloshin ( he is one of my favourite Russian poets, philosopher and painter)

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… of The Holy Land in America

Can you copy the heritage? I’d rephrase: for example, can you bring home replica of certain historical site and claim that this replica holds onto the same historical importance?

During my most recent stay in Washington, DC I visited its very own Franciscan monastery. I’m not a religious person, and Christianity is quite far from my spiritual journey, so to say. Yet I enjoy visiting temples and cathedrals, synagogues and mosques, as many of them capture that moment of unity with oneself and divine – whatever the divinity itself means to you. To my surprise, the fact of visiting the monastery, even the mere desire of doing so, left most people shrugging shoulders. “Why bother,” – They say, – “It is not a real Franciscan hermitage, it does not have the history.”

For me this is quite a surprising assumption. Even if it was built just a century ago and its beautiful shrines are mere replicas, even if it shines with clean, crisp golden paint, even it does not smell of mold and 800 centuries, this monastery has all the right to arouse interest not only among historians and religion scholars, but among simple tourists as well. At least that what I thought before my visit, and it proved me right. Mind you, this friary is not just a museum, it is a functioning monastery.

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Located in Brookland, relatively diverse neighbourhood, The Franciscan Monastery was built in late 1890’s, but the plans of “Holy Land in America” started way before. The monastery architecture is a beautiful design, in Byzantium style with slight Romanesque influences and inspired by basilicas in Jerusalem and two cloisters in Rome.

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The monastery is surrounded by Rosary portico, decorated with early Christian symbols. The whole landscape is exact replica of holy sites that were photographed meticulously for the construction.

All the details, small and tiny, on the entering the church, are worth attention.

This is the inside of the church, look at the colours of the dome!

Interestingly enough, the main altar is located right in the center of the church, just beneath the central dome.

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However, the main treat is not even the main hall but rather the “catacombs.” One has to descend just few stairs and enter miniature door (one of many in monastery, which is the height of child of 6 years old: sometimes I felt like Alice in Wonderland wishing for cookie that would make me tiny and fit comfortably into the door space) — and voila, one find themselves inside the shrine of Bethlehem, which is the replica of Grotto of Nativity form the 4th century Church of Nativity.

 

Through the long tunnels, dimly lit by electrical candles, you touch the rough walls while passing by the shrines and bones of different saints and for a moment you feel that heavy history of medieval ages.

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At the end of the tunnels and various hallways you enter the Catacombs, which are the copy of early Christian catacombs of Rome. The wall decorations are copies of original frescoes.

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As I strolled through the land, lost within infinite silent gardens and captured by various solemn statues of St. Francis, I was immersed in the whole replica of history. It was replica from outside, but to me it succeeded in preserving the whole period of history, its essence and meaning.

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Children’s Manifesto

I wanted to make post about kids. Children. 

Why always so serious? Let’s get bit childish, because as a matter of fact I’m only pretending to be an adult. I am the one, I might be — but, I think, emotionally (and, on special occasion, intellectually) I’m just a child. That being sad, I do not mean anything bad — many children are much smarter and wiser then most of us, spoiled “adults.” And I would like to toast this with my memories of one light-hearted demonstration.

I call it demonstration because of the nature of this event, which was sparkling with flags, signs (something against of, something in support of) and thousand(s) of people, I’m not exaggerating here. The official title was “Walk for Israel”, it was back in 2011, Toronto, and I still remember it vividly… I was amazed not only at the amount of people but rather at the whole participation: all 4 generations passed by me — parents brought their children, their babies, their toddlers, their own parents, their grandparents — yes, the entire families, sometimes with pets (dogs; no parrots on the shoulders spotted) decided to forgo the Sunday sleep and came out on the streets altogether.

Now, this is not a political blog (yaaay…), and I’m not a political commentator. While I was taking pictures of this event, I was mostly interested in a) practicing photo journalistic skills in capturing portraits in motion b) unusual faces and/or moments. And just a couple minutes later I realized who should be the number one subject in my photographs — kids. They do not try to hide their emotions, they are very natural with their feelings and face expressions, their wishes and desires. Sometimes curious and wild, sometimes sleepy and lazy, they definitely made my day back then.

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While adults are busy demonstrating, children are left with classic boredom, longing for the sleep and their comforting plush toys:)

The Walk is few kilometres, no wonder somebody gets tired and impatient while riding dad’s shoulders… ah, miss that time with my dad! Love the last two pictures– these girls are true princesses.

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Although here I managed to capture mostly the hat, I still like that smiling feel the photo gives.

…Seems like the most passion and fire happen in the lower levels of the Walk: the kids get serious with arguments, freeze with astonishment and sometimes become quite pugnacious..

Maybe for somebody this was a happy day, spent with friends and pride — for some it is yet another Sunday spent not exactly they way it was planned earlier…

Flags. They give the sense of pride, purpose, meaning.. and direction. maybe.

Maybe not. Maybe they mislead us. I took pictures of kids, trying to grasp their emotions and feelings during such event. They don’t care about politics, they have their own brother-sister conflicts over things like a toy, popsicle or seat in the rolling bin. Some do have fun, some are getting bored… They don’t understand why they have to carry on that blue and white piece of cloth; they would rather worry about not losing their mom’s hand out of the sight and enjoy their children’s world while adults keep fighting over it. And I’m talking in general, not in particular about the above mentioned event that actually appeared to be very joyful and cheerful in its essence.

A Mirage

When looking at this landscape with naked eye, it seemed merely beautiful– but I would not imagine the ways one photograph could transform it, sewing mirage out of the city landscape and the river bridges out of the bay line.. Or maybe the ship symbolizes that mirage, desirable optical phenomenon, while the city is forcing onto us its own reality.

..It does happen so often, when we tend to confuse and blend what is the real and what is something we desire to see, doesn’t it.

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Chicago Style: Through Prism of Phonetics, Colours, Rail Tracks.. and Sparrows

When I visited Chicago just couple weeks ago, for the very first time, I went through two (non) cultural shocks.  that and annoying hungry sparrows. 

1. It is pronounced [Shi-ka-go], as if the old lady who can not make any harder sounds tries to pronounce it. Not sexy, bold, appealing [i-ka-go] like in chess..

just realized how exhausting it will be to express phonetical frustration on paper. 

anyway, it is quite interesting how sounds and phonetical elements of the word are glued so intense into our minds that it is almost impossible to accept new ways of pronunciation. so I guess i will continue Italian gang style, chicago:)

2. Who said Chicago is like New York  (or rather, visa verse but doesn’t really matter)? “Ah, you love NYC? You will love Chicago even more!! ” Nope. The first 5 hours I was there I was jumping, happy-go-lucky, with wide eyes and not less wide open mouth– architecture heaven, same narrow streets with reach-the-sky churches and yay, I found another NYC for myself!! Taking into account I lived in NYC for almost 6 months few years ago, you have all the rights to lift the brow (no, do both of them) onto such statement. Yes, the second half of the very same day I devoted to a very slow realization that Chicago is not the same. It is gangster, mob city. And it is the city of neighbourhoods (maybe 2-3 in total you would want to visit) which are limited to just dozen blocks. 

But I still would love Chicago as any city which forces me to look up and up..

 

Chicago has an open train system- mostly above the ground. This offers fantastic views– not only on the city itself, but also on the whole composition of the city along with rail tracks. Somehow this old, ugly, rusty reddened massive ironmongery blends into the city landscape very harmonically. The lines of skyscrapers, the whole beautiful geometry of colours and styles would just collapse without those rail tracks…

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How about some crazy colours splashing over Chicago? With nice weird effect of prism filter. Although, using colours, I honestly transferred my cheerful coming to terms with the city, yet I could not stop gut feeling it was deserted. Maybe it was part of the long weekend, maybe hot summer days..  I would never imagine Chicago as ghost town– although quite often it felt like one. Some say, it’d file for bankruptcy like Detroit. So not sure if this was just very obvious result of yet another crisis in the row. 

 

Now: Why Lincoln statue has a chair?.. Anyway he stands, so why it was so absolutely necessary to put up the chair there? I understand when the ‘greatest ones’ are featured in work of art with some element they always carried along– hat, glasses, book, naked angry cat — but chair…???

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Well, and least but not last… Meet Chicago real local mob:))

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Imagine: The Boy, the Cat.. and the Ship

The black boy’s shadow reaches out for the black cat clinging to the top of the black mast. The cat does not seem willing to rush into hands of saviour –  but at some point you become unsure, is it height or crazy wind that provokes cat’s doubts, or the boy himself.

I spotted the sculpture in one of numerous tiny paved streets in Bremen, and as usual I saw more to the installation when I began editing the photograph. As if unfinished at the bottom, the whole sculpture gives impression to be sunken into Nothingness.

In Celtic mythology there was a fairy creature, Cat Sith. Many believed it would steal a person’s soul before it was claimed by the gods, by passing over a corpse before burial. The legend says Cat Sìth was a witch that could transform by wish into cat and back eight times. If one of these witches chose to go back into their cat form for the ninth time, they would remain a cat for the rest of their lives.

Thus,

Reaching out for the Ninth Life.

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Street Lights of Memory Path

There is something nostalgic about that captured moment of reflections’ maze– as if the street lights of memory start to turn on, one by one..
Street Lights of Memory