Sentinels

The Gulch, Trail, BC (Darrell Noakes)

As long as I remember, these towering sentinels have stood watch over the town. At bedtime, I would gaze into the darkness to find reassurance in those patient silhouettes. Beneath them, the industry that gave the town its life and its livelihood banged and thumped and hummed hypnotically. Embraced in that lullaby, secure in the shadows of those dark sentinels, I could drift off to sleep.

It’s funny how the things we grew up with, become the familiar.  The rhythms we were born into stay with us all our lives. Continue reading

First storm of the winter

Broadway area of Saskatoon during the first heavy snowfall of the winter, November 22, 2014 (Darrell Noakes)

Broadway Bridge and downtown Saskatoon, first heavy snowfall of the winter, November 22, 2014 (Darrell Noakes)

The warnings started on Friday: Heavy snowfall, 10 – 15 cm of snow expected. After Friday’s freezing rain warnings, it would be best to listen to what Environment Canada had to say.

Snow started falling Saturday morning. Throughout the afternoon, periodically glancing at the weather radar consistently showed a large green blob, with Saskatoon dead in the centre. Well, at least it was a green blob, denoting only the lightest snowfall throughout the region. Outside the living room window, large flakes were drifting lazily toward the ground, occasionally whipped into a frenzy by gusts of strong wind. Continue reading

Ghosts

Trail, BC. (Darrell Noakes)

(Darrell Noakes)

What if you could go back in time?

What if, one day, when you were a grown-up, you went back to your old home and climbed the ladder into your parents’ attic?

And, way in back, in a dim corner, barely illuminated by the flashlight in your hand, there was a box, a trunk, a large, dusty wooden trunk, with a lock that used a skeleton key?

So you contemplate whether or not to open it, to turn the key and open the lock, carefully, because you don’t know what might be in there, and the attic was a place that you seldom entered when you were a kid, not only because it was hard to get to, but because it was a cold and dark and drafty and scary place, and only the grown-ups were allowed in there. Continue reading

Water under the bridge

Cottonwood Falls Park. (Darrell Noakes)

Cottonwood Falls Park, Nelson, BC. (Darrell Noakes)

Deep in the recesses of my mind is a distant memory of a place my parents took me to once. It was a beautiful place, a canyon with groomed pathways, a lush garden, and a long waterfall that saturated the air with a cool mist. The water seemed to flow out of the sky. It splashed over rocks into a creek and then ran under a bridge and out into a wide, deep, slow moving river that shimmered with hues of green and blue.

I doubt I could have been more than two or three years old at the time, and we spent barely an afternoon there on a hot summer day, and we never went back. The memory of that place has persisted all my life. Whenever I think of the home where I grew up, I think of that place. Sometimes it enters my dreams, where I can still see myself running up and down the pathways of the canyon.

Whenever I asked my parents where that place was, they always shrugged. Continue reading

Bike Alley

The Bike Alley is a whimsical exercise in community development from within, says its creator, Dan Haley, owner of Casa di Cioccolato in Trail, BC. The bicycles line the alley behind his chocolate and tea shop at 346 Bay Avenue. (Darrell Noakes)

(Darrell Noakes)

“You should take a walk down there,” says Bruce, pointing to the lane in back of the old Arlington Hotel, a popular watering hole where a group of us had just wrapped up lunch over beer.

“Let’s see how many you find,” he adds as he and his sister, Sandra start across a deserted street.

“We’ll meet you over at the other end in a few minutes. We’re headed for the Artisan store. See you there.”

The Bike Alley. (Darrell Noakes)

The Bike Alley. (Darrell Noakes)

So, while the rest of the group went left, I hung a right and traipsed on down the block.

It’s pretty quiet for a Saturday, especially on a holiday weekend. There’s practically no traffic. Pretty much anyone who stayed in town must be at the Arlington.

As I reach the entrance to the lane, I spy a bike tied along the guy wires of a telephone pole, then a line of bikes overhead, pinned to the building wall. Further down, more bikes. Continue reading

First day of spring

Downtown Saskatoon, winter night (Darrell Noakes)

Downtown Saskatoon, winter night (Darrell Noakes)

It’s supposed to be the first day of spring today. Instead, it looks like winter is coming back for another blast.

After a sunny morning, it’s turned cloudy. The forecast calls for snow and blowing snow, northeast winds 30 km/hr gusting to 50, a low of minus 20 degrees Celsius tonight and a wind chill of minus 28. We’re not expected to see daytime temperatures go above freezing until well into next week, nor overnight lows above freezing until sometime in April. The past two weeks were so nice, too, in contrast with the minus 30 lows that ushered in the month.

I thought that if March came in like a lion, it was supposed to go out like a lamb! Continue reading

Catching up on photo backlog

Circle Drive South Bridge officially opens, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Darrell Noakes)

Circle Drive South Bridge officially opens, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Darrell Noakes)

Personal projects always get short shrift.

That’s not good, because personal projects are the most engaging, the most energizing, the most rewarding and the most creative.

But they fall behind because other work pays the bills.

Anyway, I figured this weekend would be a good time to catch up on a backlog of personal work. There are a couple of photo books that have been in the works for far too long and a wall decor project that’s running behind schedule and over budget. Continue reading

Hemingway’s world

Hemmingway haunt: La Bodeguita Del Medio Empedrado, Havana, Cuba ‎ +53 7 571375 (Darrell Noakes)

Hemingway famously spent a lot of time at La Bodeguita Del Medio Empedrado, a popular restaurant-bar in Havana, Cuba. (Darrell Noakes)

At Saskatoon’s latitude, February 15 is the date when the sun reaches above the horizon high enough to chase away my winter blues. Every year, it’s like someone waves a magic wand over the landscape. That’s the date when you can really feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Before that, from the beginning of November, the sun shines a cold, blue light — bright enough to need sunglasses, to be sure, but lacking in warmth and colour. Each year, I look forward to February 15 the way a kid looks forward to the day after the last day of school.

Winter can be a lovely time of year. I love the way freshly fallen snow sparkles under a full moon. I love the bright, clear night skies with so many brilliant stars. Looking out on a winter landscape is like living in a sentimental Christmas card. But I hate what the darkness of the long night does to me. Continue reading

Taking back the street at 16 below

Randy Glover posted on his Lost Kootenays blog an old photo of children sleighing on Goepel Street in Trail, BC, in 1947. You don’t see that so much these days.

Well, here’s a modern update. It’s minus 16 degrees Celsius in Saskatoon today, and there are kids playing in the street.

Our Saskatoon neighbourhood has changed a lot over the years. Maybe it’s now come full circle. Given the age of this subdivision, I bet that at about the time when we were growing up and playing in the streets of Trail, there were kids here doing the same. Continue reading