It is dark and snowing lightly. The temperature is exactly at freezing. I hear the sounds of the sirens of ambulances and the barking of the neighbor’s dogs as someone approaches. They become louder and then fade away.
Now it’s silent. I’ve been sick all weekend with the flu and my eyes feel heavy, and burn and I should really be resting.
At the end of the weekend, when I should be feeling better but I’m not; I’m feeling reflective and I want to think about better things. So to distract myself I take up my camera to take a few pictures.
I have some wonderful dried seahorses. And from time to time I take pictures of them as studies. There seems to be an infinite number of images hidden in their light, dry bodies.
One of the seahorses I bought in the Chinese herbal medicine store. The storekeeper kept her little boy at the store and he got to play amongst all the marvelous things, most of which I could not even identify, that they sold there.
She was very friendly and wrapped up my seahorse in brown paper. And I took it home, away from the small wooden box that it shared with dozens of other dried bodies of seahorses and away from the little store that swirled with strange, medicinal smells.
I use my camera to yet again to peel away more images from my dried seahorses; this time taking distorted photographs through pieces of rippled glass.
I remember as a little boy reading about seahorses. I lived thousands of kilometers away from the ocean. I’d had never seen it, but I would walk to a small nearby library and take a picture book of the ocean from off its shelves and amongst the smells of dust and stale paper I would imagine the smells of the sea, and the lives of the strange animals that lived in it.
The seahorses in the books were not dried up skeletons, but lived amongst the seaweed and were decorated with splendid colors and chased the small animals that were their food. They played and mated and lived until they were caught by the fisherman that sold them to aquariums and pet stores to get money for food, strong liquor and to repair their boats.
You see, anything is possible, especially when it is dark and one’s imagination is strong and particularly when one longs for warm seaweed smelling air and the dark ocean with its rhythmic, soothing waves.
The dried seahorse that I am photographing becomes alive in the reflections and refractions of the rippled glass. The diagonal streaks of light that shine through the glass become forests of seaweed that are its home.
Finally, I put my camera down and fall asleep dreaming of warm waves that are paradoxically full of life and full of peace.
Dale Hudjik (Edmonton, Canada)