The Full (Winter) Monte – What a difference a few months makes

August 2021 was devastating for the residents of Monte Lake BC. A spin-off from the White Rock Lake Wildfire roared through the community, sometime pulsing up a single side of a long driveway, and at other time consuming a historic church leaving picnic benches only feet away untouched. Images of the aftermath show residential devastation and charred trees as far as the eye can see. Four months later, the forest, lake and ground are covered by a thick carpet of snow preserved by bone chilling and cheek freezing temperatures. It is surprising to see folks ice fishing on the lake again with grand views of blackened forest ridges covering dry, parched ground. Did I say it is cold outside? You bet. I only kept my camera out for ten or so minutes at a time ensuring that when returned to its case in the car any warming was sufficiently gradual so as to avoid condensation building up.

Familiar landscapes from summer took on a new mood, interesting in a different seasonal way. Truly there is always something or someone to photograph, especially if you re-visit favourite locations over time and through changing seasons.

Wide angled landscapes and portraits of snowy shapes; fences and posts all continue to draw my eye; the bokeh effects through my new lens add necessary drama to an otherwise static object.  

There are many breeds of winter outdoor adventurers—those who enjoy the scene from behind a warmly heated window; those who dress for the moment, even through the darkest night; finally there are those who sit in huts on a frozen lake surface, trying to stay warm as they lure dinner onto silvery lines. Brr . . .

These scenes come to life as black and white (monochrome) images but sometimes adding a cold colour to an icy scene works well. Remember Dr. Zhivago.

I am not here attempting photojournalism. My aim not so much what you see through what can be seen, but what you feel as a result of seeing. There’s a difference.

Our favourite hamburger stand is the Monte Lake Food Truck. We visit there at least a half dozen times each year. Simply the best around, often the best place around on a warm summer night as you bask in lake-sparkled sunshine. So we were concerned when we heard the truck had burned. Well it survived; here’s the proof.

The gas station however has been closed for many years, a single pump in a Pisa-like slouch to prove what? Too expensive to remove I suspect. I wonder how much gas cost on the last day it pumped.

I call the following image “In praise of wood” thinking of wooden structures that have provided work, rest, shelter, protection, relief through the ages. Stone castles, sure, fill your Scottish boots, but it is wood that has kept us safe and dry for a century or so.

We are modern now, even at Monte Lake. We put our feet up at the lakeside, but don’t take my internet connection or satellite TV from me, icicles to bout. No, never, not ever.

You may ask, what is the significant of Robbins Range Road? Well we didn’t go that way on this trip but we will in the near future. It’s a different off-grid world up there; it is also where our dogJuno’s breeder lives and the place of her birth.

And finally, en route home, horses, such beautiful animals, unbothered by our peering or by anything else it would seem. Something in the grass, grass itself? Demanding attention in a minimalist capture of bliss. We should all be so comforted, so still, so pacific. Many the next year offer us all, photographers and viewers attentiveness, calm, creativity, joy, faith hope and love.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, you got your money’s worth today. Happy New Year to all. Ken (and Juno)

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