Pictures I Wish I Had

May 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm (Life, Memoir) (, , , , , , )

Rumour has it that one picture is worth a thousand words. Being a wordsmith, I’ve always thought that a thousand words were more evocative. I share a (mostly) picture-less post with you today knowing that the images here will bring forth different visuals for each reader; a thousand pictures perhaps for these thousand words.

I shared with you, last week, that I prefer not to have my picture taken and that I only recently discovered the joy in photography.

I give to you today the pictures I wished I had in my collection. The pictures I once considered Unphotographable for numerous reasons.

I grew up in a small town; it was three blocks wide by six blocks long and it had a forest on the edge of it. The forest was a grove of ancient trees, two blocks long and one block wide. It was right beside the Catholic manse and hidden within was a gazebo. The elementary schools were across the street and our teachers would use the forest for end of school treasure hunts. The forest was a quiet place, a sacred place and one of my favourite outdoor places to read (& dream) was inside that gazebo. I don’t have a picture of the gazebo or the forest.

If you go two blog posts back, you can read about how I use to like to read under the bed. I can picture it but it’s not a picture that was ever taken. One, because someone would have had to lie down on the floor to get the picture and two, I was hiding. 🙂 Still, it would be a nice picture to have,  seven year old me, my cat, the family dog, surrounded by pillows and my purple flower lamp; such a cozy picture.

I’m all for typical, playtime pictures of children rather than all those cheesy, posed department store pictures. Playtime pictures are the type of pictures that remind me of who my siblings, my nieces & nephews, my cousins really were. M on the tractor, N playing with her brother, J in uniform – these are the everyday shots of childhood that make me feel warm and happy inside.

One of my favourite Fall activities when I was a child was raiding my mother’s garden after she had harvested, frozen and canned everything. The garden, after that, was a mess of peelings, innards and rotten vegetables that smelled all rich and loamy. My best friend and I would grab the library’s copy of Mud Pies and Other Recipes and pretend to be great chefs as we stirred, combined and kneaded. We got so messy and no one ever thought to take a picture.

I’ve shown you a picture of the Hahn house. I’d  like a closer view. I’d like to have a close-up or two of the old fashioned tar paper brick pattern it was covered in. Tar paper is a type of early siding that I’m not sure I can describe. It was pebbly to the touch, peeling in spots, faded and on hot, summer days smelled like tar. Mostly, it was the first home I remember and I wish I had more pictures of its eccentricities.

Also, at our landlord’s house, at Mrs. Hahn’s house, there was a big, old stuffed chair the exact colour of that house. I coveted that large, just perfect for reading chair. I covet it still. I haunt garage sales and antique stores looking for one just like it. I need a picture of that chair so that it would be easier to find a replica of the chair itself.

I would like a picture of Grandma F’s garden; she is one of the mothers I mention here. I’m sure someone has pictures of her garden; her actual family probably. Grandma F’s garden bloomed from early Spring until late Fall. I loved the Fall garden the most with its multitude of Snapdragons. The garden was always a riot of colour; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. What pictures I could take of that garden now with my easy to use digital camera – pictures of flowers, birds, and butterflies and a picture of five year old me entranced by such majesty.

Every Christmas of my childhood was spent at my grandparent’s farm (my father’s parents). My two older sisters, my younger brother and I would get picked up at noon by my grandfather in his truck and we would go out to join everyone for an afternoon of food and fun. There were around fifteen of us cousins and I was among the oldest – when my step-siblings joined us that brought the number up to twenty. We would eat, watch the Queen’s Message on TV, maybe a Christmas Day TV movie and I would sneak off to one of the bedrooms to be alone and read.

When the grown-ups got tired of us or after we had complained one too many times that we were bored, we would get chased outside to play. It was always fun because there was so many of us and we didn’t get to see each other everyday.

At that point in time, my grandfather had a yard full of square hay-bales. It seem liked he had thousands – he would stack them in between the barn and the farm-house. We, the cousins, would burrow inside them, on those cold Christmas Days, and build forts and tunnels. I remember the inside of the Hay Bale maze being immense and itchy, but I have no picture. I have no pictures of my Grandfather’s farm. I think I will have to pillage my mother’s photo collection the next time I am at her house.

The last picture I wish I had is of an experience from my very brief marriage. My ex was trying to be a photographer, that is, he was hoping to be paid for his photography. So, one very early Spring morning (before Sunrise – I am not a before Sunrise sort of person), we drove out to Beaver Creek to get pictures of the beavers. We canoed out (okay, he paddled, I sat, I’m not an outdoor person either) to the middle of the creek and waited silently and waited some more and waited until my legs were cramped and my brain was numb. Suddenly, we were in the midst of beavers – little ones, big ones, noisy ones. It was amazing and my favourite memory of my should-not-have-been marriage.

I don’t want a picture of the wild life (well not of the beavers); I want that picture of us sitting in the canoe, quietly waiting, for a miracle.

In conclusion, here is an article about whether A cultural position around photography should primarily make a clear definition between a picture of something and a picture about something.

I will try to blog on Thursday before I go off to take pictures in another country. If there is no post Thursday, I will write in two weeks.

Meanwhile, you go out there and take the pictures you wish you had.  🙂



  1. Nan said,

    This was such a lovely post. I’m a big fan of regular life sorts of pictures, and wish I had so many that are only in my mind. Have you seen the movie, Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr., and Anne Bancroft? The very end of the movie shows scenes that were never photographed or videoed (is that a word?). All the little moments in life which live in our memories.

  2. livingdilbert said,

    You really are a masterful wordsmith. I love your stories. So glad I found your blog. I know I told you, but wanted to tell you again that I’m still deeply enjoying your writing!

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