Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Green Fuse

April and May are usually the months of Really Cool Things Going Down in my life, although August tends to bring the party to the table as well. And October, but October cheats because it has Halloween and I go crazy for that holiday.
But I digress.
There were times when I looked down on the spring festivals and religious rites of older societies, laughing at their idea that the sun might not return to warm everything, the plants might grow... that somehow their rituals and songs could raise the sun from the ground and force the green fuse. How could the sun NOT rise? It's held in place by the gravitational pull of the planets. How could spring not occur? We reached that part in our orbit. It was just going to happen, as sure as I was going to wake up and hit snooze on my alarm clock.
Except this year something shifted. With the cold of winter but the lack of snow, the lack of any rain, the strange tesslations of weather patterns over everything, I actually started to suspect that spring wasn't going to happen.
Believe it or not, I was really afraid. I was afraid it hadn't been cold enough to really stop the sap in the tree, so they wouldn't be triggered to grow leaves. I was afraid somehow that everything was so messed up the world just wouldn't know it was time. I looked out the window as I drove to work each morning wondering where my beloved, riotous green haze was, and if it would ever be coming. This in an age where I have the chance to be distracted by electronic items at any given moment. And I noticed things were off in spite of all that.
Imagine being in a culture where the only thing you really have to do is your daily chores and interacting with the world outside? Every weird variation in temperature would be noticeable. The lack of growing grass or flowers by a certain time? Everybody would be aware. They didn't have Twitter or Facebook to update constantly, or video games... most times they didn't even have books to bury their nose in. they walked outside, and the progression of the seasons was right there in their face constantly.
Upon realizing this, it makes sense that they would do their best to make sure everything stayed regular. The world in those days could kill them or starve them. A late spring meant possibly a bad August harvest. You were extremely sensitive to anything that so much as quivered before it was supposed to. And you didn't like seeing those extra quivers.
It makes sense now why people might thing that spring would never come. If there was extra long winter, one weird cold spell... well, the fear is understandable now.
It took a massive shift in weather weirdness to bring my attention over to this possibility. Yes, I was literally terrified the green and red buds would never form on the branches this year. It just seemed to take too long, like something was missing.
Then the cherry blossoms poked out shyly. And last week my riotous green haze descended like a rain on every bush and branch so that the woods I drive through to get home were alive and breathing again.

I'm sorry for making fun of you mentally all these years, Druids and Mayans. I get it now.

Another new development... such silly things we get conflicted on!
I have a Nikon N60. It has lived through having a thumb go through the shutter, a woman who didn't know what the hell she was doing use it, and 16 years of neglect, repair, and adoration. It still cranks the gears and rewinds the film, takes decent pictures. But in the last 2-3 years it has, at times (and much like a stubborn mule) refused to advance the film. It's had to be rewound, stashed, and a new one put in with fingers crossed it wouldn't happen again.
As much as I like our little Cannon A550 digital, it can only take good pictures under very specific conditions, and aside from those 3 minutes outside at mid-day, the rest of life's goings-on don't fall in to that. (It takes nice pictures, but sometimes the lines aren't as clean as I would like) I couldn't trust the N60 to come with us for 2 weeks to Tokyo because in that noisy and bustling place I couldn't be sure I would hear the strange noise of film not advancing in the camera. We could lose an entire afternoon of images due to Alzheimer's-camera.
Late last week I talked with Bob about acquiring a newer one that could utilize the lens on the body of the N60, and we discovered that N80's are damned fine pieces of equipment, and also that Amazon was selling used ones for incredibly cheap.
The body showed up on Friday and with shipping included cost us less than $100. It's insanely fast, works very well with my current AF lens, and has lots of room to work with. Also, so far it has worked beautifully through the film. No problems that I can tell, and I'm psyched we'll have a steady film camera for when we're in Japan. I was so excited I almost cried when it arrived because of that.
See, the N60 was the best birthday gift in the world, given to me around my 16th natal day. I was going to use it to become this fantastic photojournalist, traveling to the rainforests of Costa Rica to take pictures for national geographic and the Audubon society. It was going to be epic.
Then the camera started having issues. Shutter wouldn't close fast enough. Poor understanding of the settings... and it fell by the wayside. It became my point-and-click over the next few years, with the knowledge that even my daily pictures would look really good coming from it, even if they weren't professional-grade.
I had looked in to getting a new one, at least a new body that would work with the basic lens on it, but for the longest time I didn't want to consider it because it had been a gift and it felt like a dream deferred every time I looked at it... like it was still waiting fr me to use it to its full potential, and really I hadn't used it well as the gift that was given. Like the dog sitting on the porch waiting for its owner to come home after work and wagging when you get closer, only to be disappointed because you're too tired to play or walk it. There was a lot of emo going down about that camera.
So when I took the lens off, put the body cap on, and set the camera in to the Nikon bag my parents presented me with many a moon ago, it was a little emotional for me. A very small part of me was hoping that maybe the lens wouldn't fit the new body and I would be forced to return it and get the N60 repaired once and for all, restored to its former glory. I would be running around Tokyo with an analog antique, but it would still be fulfilling it's role as Documenter of My Life's Awesomeness.
But it did. And I couldn't really bring myself to take a twitchy, older thing with me on this trip. I'll cause enough failure on my own without an unreliable machine.
It was freeing for the N80 to show up, in the end. It's a new machine. It's one I helped buy, so I didn't feel like I'd just been handed something and was taking its existence for granted.
It's a really nice camera. I can't wait for a chance to get out there and shoot with it. I think it's time the N60 got to be put away properly in its cushy bag instead of propped on the kitchen divider or the front hallway. Like the fluffy bed you get for the old golden retriever with arthritis.
You know, the N60 came before I started naming all my technological devices. It boggles me that I've had something in my possession ~that long~.
What's more interesting is the fact that because the N60 wasn't named, I didn't even consider giving the N80 a name. Funny how we just automatically run those patterns in our minds.
Had enough of cameras? You'll hate me over the next few days then. Just wait.

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