A couple of days ago one of my daughters and I went out for a short drive in the country to take pictures. We ended up at an old Ukrainian Orthodox church half an hour out of town.
I had been here a couple of times before to do long exposures but the skies never cooperated with me. This time might be better I was hoping.
After I planted the tripod and set the camera to do an eight minute exposure I sat myself on the warm grass and took in the scenery. My daughter was at the far end of the church yard walking through the old cemetery. (not the one in the picture above). As I looked around I noticed that the tops of some poplar trees were already turning yellow. On the drive out earlier the once bright yellow fields of canola had mostly lost their blossoms and were now a dull blue green. Prairie wildflowers that were in full bloom a couple of short weeks ago had dropped their petals and all around me in the mowed grass surrounding the church dandelion heads were ready to release their seeds to the wind. A sure sign of autumn.
My daughter returned a few minutes later and sat with me to chat about unimportant stuff that dads and daughters talk about.
Being as it was still summer I was wearing shorts. She was wearing long black jeans and a black top. When the sun broke from the clouds that were whizzing by everything got warm. Very warm. So warm in fact that soon my daughter was getting hot dressed all in black and into the Rav we went and were home shortly.
I processed my images and still… nothing that I cared to use.
Sunday morning, July 31 came and the sky looked wonderful. The clouds were very low and puffy and there was a strong wind. Perfect conditions for the church I thought. I hollered upstairs to my daughter, the other one had to work at Starbucks later that day, and asked if she wanted to go. Typical young person who was out late the night before, “No dad, I’m too tired”, was all I needed to hear and in two minutes I was out the door and on my way.
The sky ended up being very nice and I spent three hours there watching the sky blow by and have curious gophers inch closer towards me as I sat and waited for the camera to expose another image.
Feeling good about having something to use I decided to skip across the county to another couple of old churches that I knew of and their cemeteries. In half an hour I was there and taking photos.
I immediately walked to the country cemetery and planted the camera for my first shot. Having done that I walked around and read some of the gravestone markers. It was an interesting story that the markers told. Mostly Ukrainians settled here. Some had emigrated from across the sea and died here. Others born in the late 1880’s married, had children and died. Other grave markers were of young children born in December and dying a month later during the time of the Spanish Flu.
As I continued to take photos my mind drifted back to the stories associated to the grave markers. Everyone of them had a story to tell. The loves and sorrows. The highs and lows. Having children, losing children. Living their lives the same way we do today but with much less luxury and extravagance. I tried to imagine the people behind the names and a time over one hundred years ago. What was it like to live here at that time?
Those people are exactly like us. Each with a story to tell and now mostly forgotten. Will it be that way for us?
Autumn is coming.