A source of satisfaction…
Now that the ice is gone from the inlet and winter seems to have delivered its final blows, the rowing crews are out practicing every morning and afternoon and those who spend their summer days on the lake are thinking about boating season.
For months the sailboats have sat on trailers and cradles with masts stored atop and bright blue wraps protecting them from the winter snows. The slips at the marina have sat empty and the docks have been idle and home only to the few gulls that stick out the cold months by the lake or in the shopping center parking lots.
One of my favorite photographic haunts at this time of year is the Ithaca Boating Center. Still quiet and yet to see the business of warmer weekends, the boats that have been stored there sit waiting for attention, under their tarps of blue and green and silver, like hibernating whales. Many of them older wooden crafts in need of scraping and sanding and fresh paint, showing the age marks of seasons in the water. There are also the fiberglass beauties longing for a good scrubbing and waxing to make them smooth and sleek as dolphins.
There are boats on their last legs, and boats wishing for restoration. There are bits and pieces of boating detritus left behind from the disintegration of old boats no longer worthy of repair or salvage. They create a maze through which to walk exhibiting countless opportunities for abstract compositions of colors and lines and shapes and textures.
The boating center itself is a great subject as well. The building has stood here for many years and been added on to with little attention given to architecture and more to function. The area is prime for development, having seen, in the last few years, the construction of a very popular restaurant on the point next door and a beautiful new health center complex across the street. The city has also been putting money into waterfront development.
So this structure is one whose days are numbered. I feel a bit of nostalgic angst at the thought of this place falling to the wrecking ball. But one of the things photography makes you keenly aware of is the impermanence of our world, the passing of the old. Things you photograph today are gone tomorrow. You notice your surroundings more, so when something disappears it’s like losing a piece of the landscape that you had come to depend on. Like that feeling of loosing a tooth, that sudden strange newness of the hole that slowly is replaced by something else that eventually becomes normal and familiar.
I visit the boatyard frequently. I pass it everyday, sometimes several times. So it’s like an old friend even though I’ve never owned a boat myself. It has great variety and character. It feeds my creativity with its seasonal changes and its strange character and its slight neglect. So I document it, and linger about, feeling its spirit and history and extracting images that feel fleeting and hidden and satisfying. Come on Summer. It’s time to be on the water.
All images are copyright © George Cannon / All rights reserved.