“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I am visual. I enjoy books with illustrations. I used to love instagram before it got all algorithm-y and creepy. I especially love blogs with pictures.
I have learned that uploading pictures in a place where internet is slow and inconsistent is cause for me to quit posting anything at all. I also have children that love posing for pictures and ones that hide and absolutely forbid me from posting photos of them. I had to make a choice. Do I stop blogging because pictures take too damn long to upload and format and because some of my kids don’t want their pics posted? Or do I give up the addition of photos to posts and just write?
I was reading Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. There are no pictures but the descriptions take me to the place immediately. Her description of the details are so vivid and familiar like this paragraph at the beginning of the book:
I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the night and land on my chest. I’d half-awaken. He’d stick his skull under my nose and purr, stinking of urine and blood. Some nights he kneaded my bare chest with his front paws, powerfully, arching his back, as if sharpening his claws, or pummelling a mother for milk. And some mornings I’d wake in daylight to find my body covered with paw prints in blood; I looked as though I’d been painted with roses.
We have three cats. I can totally smell the urine and the blood.
My photos from our jungle contain dozens of shades of green. I have trouble describing the density, the closeness of the trees. The lack of depth perception at times because of the dozens of layers that bleed into one flattened vista. The feeling of a sauna out in the open. There is no door to open to let in the cool air.
There is the photo of the kids walking down the jungle road with the sun setting and we feel like we are at the edge of civilization – alone but together.
So many photos on my phone in 2020: Photos of our new and old learning center; photos of all of Mikey’s baking experiments; photos of all the kids’ birthdays with everyone together for each one for the first time in four years; photos of AJ’s sewing creations; photos of Q’s and Joey’s art and makings; photos of books everywhere; and photos of a family that exercises and laughs together rain or shine.
I also see selfie photos that will never go public and a familiar pose of a couple married twenty years at the beach with the sun setting (we love how that glow makes us look ten years younger). I see photos of our lessons and the kids’ homework and projects – homeschooling habits die hard.
My favourite photo of 2020 is either the photo of the seven of us on my birthday in July or the before and after shot of our new bathrooms.
In between those photos are the 52 vignettes. These are the memories that fade fast, no proof of existence except in the minds and the hearts of those that were there. There are conversations and almost imperceptible details that even the people who were there didn’t see. I want to frame them all with words and permit myself the blurred (or singed) edges and frolic to my heart’s delight in liberal paraphrases.
With my words, I will format and filter. I will brighten. I will smooth the contrasts. I will highlight and over/under expose. I will cast shadows with black and white and also use a grayscale. I will saturate with colour, vibrance, and warmth. I will sharpen only what I want you to see.