We put Kayla down last Tuesday (22nd November). She was 8 years old and the ultra sound revealed that she had advanced cancer of the lymph nodes which was diffused through her body. She had stopped eating when we were in Robe several weeks ago and she hadn’t eaten for two weeks. She was losing weight and her liver had shrunken to such a degree that the vet found it was difficult to locate it on the ultrasound. Kayla was wasting away.
She was much loved and is deeply missed. This was one of the last photos that I made. It was made on our last Sunday morning Rosetta Head walk together.
It was before we realized that she had cancer. We working on the assumption that she had an ongoing viral infection. Looking back we can see that she did did have a viral infection but the cancer had so weakened her immune system that her body couldn’t overcome it.
A recent afternoon poodlewalk in the local Waitpinga bushland in the southern Fleurieu Peninsula incorporated an 8×10 photo session. This session was a response to a disappointing one in the Spring Mount Conservation Park the previous day. Then I never even took the 8×10 out of the Forester. I had been hoping for misty conditions when I was driving there, only to encounter light rain when I was walking around.
It is more accurate to say that on the Waitpinga poodlewalk the photo session was first and the poodlewalk with Maleko came afterwards. I carried the camera equipment to the site, made the photo, returned the equipment to the Forester, then Maleko and I went on a walk through the bushland.
I have spent many an early morning during the late summer of 2022 wandering through the local bushland with Kayla. There are lots of smells for her (eg., foxes, rabbits, kangaroos) and there are some photographic possibilities for me.
It had been raining during the previous day, which was very unusual for summer in the Fleurieu Peninsula. This was in early January during a cool summer. Summer is normally hot and dry with no rain for 5 or so months. The rains normally start in late April.
“This process of going astray, doubling back, regaining the path, sometimes gaining the perspective I was seeking and sometimes not, was exactly what it means to be on a philosopher’s walk; a walk that is open-ended, exploratory, and follows thoughts where they lead, even if that is not to a conclusion.” Bruce Baugh, Philosophers’ Walks, Routledge, 2021
For me the key word in this paragraph about walking is exploratory:– not in the sense of exploring oneself, but in taking myself out of my individual identity or subjectivity. When walking we have left behind commentary, refutation, recopying, we are no longer wrapped up books or looking at our computer screens. Walking allows myself to see the very simple, very ordinary things that exist in the space that I am walking in; and then to become immersed in that space.
Walking, it is often held, is an indispensable aid to thinking and writing. I would add walking is also indispensable to photography. Walking is a point of access to the sublimely ordinary as it is through our bodies, on the move, that we make sense of our surroundings. In this view, walking offers an embodied basis for experiencing and engaging with the world.
Philosophy is connected to explorationas the marks of philosophy are reflection and heightened self-awareness. Since reflection can deepen our understanding of our ideas and motivations, it is going to involve historical understanding of individuals in a particular place and time.
It is mid-spring. Daylight saving has started and the new concrete causeway to Granite Island is nearing completion. The Sculpture by the Sea park on the island has been dismantled by the Victor Harbor Council on the grounds that it was unpopular in the local community. The rains have stopped, the days are becoming warmer, there is less cloud around in the late afternoon, the light now is stronger and more contrasty. There have been no really hot days so far.
Whilst I have been wandering around the coast and the bush I have been watching this seal carcass slowly decay:
The poodles are fascinated by it–especially Maleko. They go charging ahead of me on the rocks as we head in the direction of the carcass from Kings Beach lookout. Thankfully, they do not try and eat the carcass. They just dance around it.
We are at the mid-February point of summer and the weather has been more of the same: cool and overcast with just the odd hot day with a north easterly wind. The hot weather started this week but it is forecasted to last for only several days this week — not the normal two weeks. Maybe that will come in March.
At the moment I ‘m running my film stock down before I make the major annual purchase through B+H in New York. I have only half a box of the 5×7 Kodak Portra 160 ASA left.
It’s been a matter of selecting the location, knowing the time the light shines on the trees, setting the camera up, then waiting for the light to shine through the trees at the required time. Often the moving cloud cover means that there is no sunlight. So the large format equipment is packed away in the Forester and I continue the poodlewalk with Kayla.
The afternoon walks through the local bush will soon be coming to an end as we came across a brown snake the other afternoon whilst we were walking along Depledge Rd in Waitpinga. I was surprised to see it on the side of the road because it was still late winter, and the day temperatures up to that date had not been that warm.
From now on the poodlewalks in the bush or scrub will need to be in early morning as its too cold for snakes. Kayla and I usually start walking around sunrise and I am looking out for the early morning light. It is changing.
The late afternoon walks with Maleko will, by and large, be along the coastal rocks between Petrel Cove and Kings Beach. We have to walk part of the way along the Heritage Trail to reach the rocks. As we have seen the odd brown snake along this path in the past, I keep an eye out.
The roadside vegetation that I see whilst walking the back country roads is limited in terms of photographic subject matter. So I have been wandering and exploring this bushland on both the early morning with Kayla and at the late afternoon poodlewalks with Maleko.
June 1 dawned with cold, blustery south westerly winds, dark clouds, driving rain and big seas. Winter had arrived on cue.
This cloud formation is what greeted Kayla and myself on the early morning poodlewalk on June 1. We hugged the northern edge of Rosetta Head to escape the 50 km south-westerly wind. I was looking across Encounter Bay to Goolwa and to the Coorong.
The weather was too wild to continue to the top of Rosetta Head and down the southern side, so we turned away from the coast, which is where we normally walk and photograph, jumped in the car and drove inland to seek some protection from the gusty, driving wind. We walked up and down Depledge Rd for about 30-40 minutes before I decided to return to exploring the bush “reserve” that ran adjacent to the western side of Depledge Rd in Waitpinga. We had had walked within this “reserve” a few days before.
The lockdown restrictions for the Covid-19 pandemic means that I can only travel in my local area, until the travel restrictions are eased (in mid-May?) to allow us to travel more widely within the South Australian borders. The permitted movement with the stay-at-home order is primarily for exercise. There are lots of people walking along the coastal paths in the Petrel Cove / Kings Beach area.
With the extensive economic dislocation and suffering from the Covid-19 lockdown, the political conversation has shifted to reopening the nation’s economy to ‘get the economy moving‘ as soon a possible. Rosy scenario’s abound. The federal Coalition government in Australia says it plans to return to its austerity and small state prescriptions –ie., cutting regulations, reducing taxes on business, a punitive cutting back welfare, and generally letting the private sector lead the economic restart. This, it is promised, will ensure that economic growth will proceed as before Covid-19. This assumes a sharp, V-shaped recovery.
During the lockdown I have been photographing in the Encounter Bay/Waitpinga area on the poodlewalks in both the morning and the evening. This digital snap was made on the morning of the 28th April before the rains came in from the south-west.
Whilst I was walking along Baum Rd with Kayla around sunrise I could sense that the rain was on its way. It held off until 3pm that afternoon, then it rained for most of the night. Luckily, the painters, who are painting the eves of the house, had just finished for the day. They won’t be returning until the following Monday, as the weather forecast is for continual rain for the rest of this week.