Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

January 19, 2013

THE SOLITARY MAN


OLYMPUS E=P1 PROJECT
... i was unable to sleep, perhaps the result of partaking of my daily coffee ration late in the evening, or, more likely, simply because my brain had regressed to its old habit of stubborn refusal to let go of consciousness despite my fervent desire that it rest ... a long time ago having learned that neither television, books, nor computer are solutions, i wrapped myself in one of ma's comfy blankets and curled up atop the radiator beneath my living room's bay window, a perch which offers a panoramic view of the western side of the downtown ...

... except for a few cars, those of friday night bar patrons who were either too influenced to drive themselves home, or, equally likely, had elected to spend the night at someone else's residence, the parking lot is empty ... lining the lot and forming barriers down its center are piled high ridges of snow, uncollected remains of the plowing after the last storm ... there've been two days of dry air and strong sunlight since then, so the asphalt itself is dry ... the arc lights on the tall polls warm the scene with a coppery-red illumination, belying the fact that the air temperature outside is in the single digits ... there is absolutely no wind, and i know if i opened the window the empty silence would be punctuated only by the occasional passing of a car and the purring of the two cabs which spend the night stationed on the other side of the parking lot awaiting the calls of their dispatchers ...

... after awhile i noticed a solitary figure wandering along the sidewalk of the strip mall across the lot ... as i watched, he crossed the tarmac and began walking along the snowbanks, stopping every now and then to stoop down ... i could see he was dressed for the cold, wearing some sort of heavy insulated pants, a hooded parka, and what appeared to be snowmobile boots ... soon, i was able to discern he was carrying a large plastic bag, and that when he bent down it was to collect a can or bottle he'd found in the snow ...

... it was fifteen or twenty minutes before he had worked his way through the lot below my window, then wandering behind the brick facade of the building next to my apartment he disappeared from sight ... in all that time i saw no other person below or in the distance, nor did any cars drive by ...

... and, for some strange reason, i thought of louis daguerre's photograph of the boulevard du temple in paris, france ... when daguerre took the photograph in 1839, it was of the very first permanent photographs ever made ... because of the ten-minute exposure required, things that were moving, such as people, carriages, horses, etc., were not recorded, thus what was surely a busy street bustling with commerce and trade seems devoid of all life ... 

LOUIS DAGUERRE - 1839

... all, that is, except for the solitary man having his his shoes shined ... because he was standing still, he became the very first human being to be photographed ... yet, despite this remarkable distinction, his identity is a mystery and it is most likely he will remain forever anonymous ...

... the individual in daguerre's photograph and the man wandering beneath my window, i'm sure they are somehow connected ... i hope that in time i will understand how ...

... you will not see the bottle-collecting man in my photograph ... he was in his place and i in mine, and, sensing that to open my window might disturb him, i waited until after his passing to snap a picture ...