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(bell and breath)
(sound of campfire)
I invite you to slow down, or maybe stop, what you’re doing and listen to a campfire story
We’re sitting in the snow, by the Preston River in Duhamel, Québec. The snow absorbs the sound here but it is also slightly amplified by the cottage and frozen trees. It’s raining so you also hear drops of water, snow and ice falling in between the fire crackles.
Sometimes, when I get discouraged about the ecological crisis, I build a campfire like this to lift my spirits and re-energize.
Campfires are also a great place to tell and listen to stories that engage your emotions.
Today’s story is an excerpt from my conversation with climate photographer Joan Sullivan from e96 – the liminal space between what was and what’s next.
The story begins with Joan taking photos in the winter by the St-Lawrence River near Rimouski :
If you’ve ever stood on the shores of a winter river that has no ice, it’s kind of, you know, gray, right? That particular day, it wasn’t gray, but in general, a winter river is just sort of meandering through a gray-ish landscape. It’s banal. It’s not visually dramatic. And it occurred to me that very day that the worst possible thing is that it becomes normal to see a river without ice. It’s becoming normal and it is not normal. So I didn’t know what to do. I’m all alone, you know?
I just take my camera and I tried to take a photo of this orange, you know, metaphorically on Fire River, but my hands were shaking, you know, it was like, click, click, click. And, and, you know, each image was blurred. And, and I just deleted them all. So I started again. I tried to hold the camera, you know, close to my chest, to like, steady it, and my hands were shaking, and it was the strangest thing. It’s never happened to me in 30 years of photography that I couldn’t stop my hands. And it’s suddenly dawned on me that I, my hands, weren’t shaking up because of the cold, but because of an anger, you know, this deep, profound anger about our collective indifference in the face of climate breakdown. Wait, we’re just carrying on with our lives as if you know, la la la and nothing, nothing’s bad’s happening. So there was this sense of rage. I mean, like, honestly, it’s surprising how strong it’d be in a violent rage just sort of coming outta me.
I wanted to scream, and I just, you know, took my camera and just moved it violently, right? Left up, down the, and almost, I suppose, it was almost like I was like drowning in the water. You know, my arms are just doing everything. And I was holding down the shutter the whole time, you know, 20, 30, 40 photos at a time. And I did it over. And oh, I was just, I was just, I was just beside myself. And you know, you at some point, you just stop and you’re staring out at the river. And I just felt helpless. I just didn’t know what to do…
(River sound continues in background)
Thank you, Joan, for this story and your work as an artist. You can listen to the whole 8 minute story on the conscious podcast e96.
The question for this episode is drawn from Joan’s story :
What can we do about our collective indifference?
The campfire for this episode was recorded on December 30th, 2022 at our cottage in Duhamel, Québec.
The story is an excerpt from my conversation with climate photographer Joan Sullivan from e96 – the liminal space between what was and what’s next. You can hear the entire story here 🙂
The YouTube video version of this episode includes footage from our cottage and from Joan’s Je suis fleuve photo series.For more information on her work see https://www.joansullivanphotography.com
I am grateful and accountable to the earth and the human labour that provided me with the privilege of producing this episode. (including all the toxic materials and extractive processes behind the computers, recorders, transportation and infrastructure that make this podcast possible).