That Was Then… This Is Now

Just three days ago I was walking along The Bow River, enjoying the brilliant double-digit temperature.  Today is quite a different picture.  These are photos I took just a couple of hours ago, temperature hovering around 3 degrees C.  They were taken not too far from the deer sighting location on Mother’s Day. But today, May 27, three days after Victoria Day, the scene is another world.

As one who tries to preserve the most natural and authentic images, I’ve left the photos as they are, no adjustment, not even cropping here.  I like the blurry overtone, their lack of colors, for in reality, it was snowing heavily and the sky was grey.  I’d enjoyed this impromptu photo session.  I came home soaking wet.

But all this time I’ve been thinking about the oil spill down in the Mexican Gulf coast.  It’s one thing about snow in May for us, or even in July, or baseball-size hail in August, or the fierce blizzards in the winter, these we’ve learned to take as they come, knowing they’re ‘act of God’.

But, if something happens due to human errors or negligence, or which is preventable if more caution was paid, or less greed was involved, or political interests were laid aside, or more value placed on life, human or nature, then it’s a different matter.  Such are the times when we can’t be docilely yielding, as to a sovereign deity. Drastic measures are definitely needed in a time such as this.

No doubt, these pictures are thousands of miles from the Gulf coast, a huge gap in climate, a drastic difference in natural habitat.  Nonetheless, the air that once was in Chernobyl would ultimately reach us just the same as the tides from the tsunami of the Indian Ocean.  We’re shrouded by the same atmosphere; we’re linked by the same waters.  So, your pelican is also my pelican, likewise, my deer, your deer.






All photos taken by Arti of Ripple Effects, May 27, 2010.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

13 thoughts on “That Was Then… This Is Now”

  1. Oh dear me…
    and yes we are all connected…
    … the dilemma of fossil fuels and our environment… as Albertans, we live it everyday.



  2. Oh my goodness… not scenes I thought I’d be seeing when I visited you today!

    And you are right about the shared air. It does affect us all even as the economies of countries far away affect ours.


    That’s why they say here never plant until past Victoria Day. But maybe even much later… Also, thanks for your tips on the photo collage.



  3. It’s almost summer! I can’t believe it’s snowing when it’s almost summer!

    BTW, I left a comment for you on Nikki Polani’s blog, but I suggested using for creating collages. It’s free and super easy to use.
    Wandering Chopsticks,

    Thanks for the link. At first I made the mistake of not typing in an ‘s’ after ‘lab’ and I went to the
    wrong site and I thought no, there’s just got to be a big huge mistake here. But glad I found the right one now… and I’ll definitely try that collage function. Thanks a million!



  4. Arti,

    It is that very ‘interconnectedness’ that I spoke of in my post that you so eloquently convey. I’ve often wondered if some of us are simply more attuned to it than others. While it’s true that distance, oftentimes, minimizes its influences, I have felt a profound heaviness over this oil spill since it first began. (This from one who has never been to the Gulf Coast).

    While the excuses and blame fill the airwaves, it is the devastating aftermath of this tragedy that doesn’t abate. The images linger. The loss continues. It is mourning and I am bereaved.

    Your images are soothing and welcome. Thank you.


    That’s the intricacy of connectedness– you don’t have to be there to empathize and feel it. Although environmentally, we’ll ultimately face the effects no matter how far we’re. But as you’ve articulated so poignantly on your post, the deep sadness can be shared long before the ripples reach our shores.



  5. Snowing in May, only in Alberta!!

    Fabulous shots, they are so precious. Since there is no one in sight, you must be the only person out snapping away.
    The solitude, the quietness and the great composition of your shots are awesome. Thank you for sharing these special moments. I can feel the crisp, fresh air as well…I’m homesick.

    Molly Mavis,

    These photos were taken in Fish Creek Park. You’re right, I was the only one standing out there in the wet, falling snow. Had a hard time keeping my camera dry. In the actual size, you can see the falling snow in the pics, but here you only see the hazy overtone.



  6. There’s nothing like a spring snow – wet and clingy, and able to be appreciated because you know it’s not the beginning of months of increasing cold and beautiful misery!

    As for that interconnectedness – a true story, that I’ll try to keep short.

    One Sunday morning, about 15-16 years ago, I was sitting with friends by a marina pool. We were overlooking the channel that runs from Clear Lake to Galveston Bay, and out to the Gulf of Mexico. We were drinking coffee and chatting when we suddenly began to hear the rigging of the sailboats begin to chatter.

    Looking up, we watched in amazement as the boats began to lean and bob. There was no wind, no current – it was as if an invisible hand was pushing them over.

    Suddenly, in a little dead-end channel where shrimp boats and a couple of work tugs were tied up at the dock, there was a terrific “CRACK!” All of the boats were pulled from their moorings. Actually, the mooring cleats were simply pulled out of the concrete dock.

    It took a day to figure out what had happened. In fact, a large earthquake (though not terribly destructive in human terms) had occurred in – Alaska! The wave from the quake had traveled south, down the west coast, around the tip of South America, north again and into the Gulf. Once a wave like that gets into the Gulf, it keeps going until it comes to the end of the road. We were it.

    It was, you might say, one gigantic ripple effect!

    That ripple was interesting, and fun, and not too damaging. Unfortunately, the ripples from Deepwater Horizon are going to be far more deadly and far reaching than anyone knows. This is not an oil spill. This could be the death of the Gulf for longer than anyone can imagine.

    I’m glad I have your lovely photos to look at!


    1. Linda,

      In February this year, an earthquake hit Chile. In its wake, the west coast of Canada and US, to as far as Hawaii, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand received tsunami advisory. What you’ve described so riveting here of course is a first person account of a similar case. And you’re right, sooner or later the ripples will reach our shores no matter how far away the origin is. All the more that we should look out for each other. This oil spill is getting messier and messier, and it’s just tragic that there’s no end in sight. These pictures here are posted for sharing too… and I’m glad they could offer a sense of relief.


  7. Oh, Arti, I was stunned that these were just a couple days ago. They are incredibly beautiful, moreso because you didn’t post process them. The one with the winding fence is utterly splendid.

    Our corporate and government systems have gone so wrong I just don’t know when, or if, we can ever recover decency, or civilization. It’s up to us to do the best we can to be authentic (like your photos!), helpful, positive, and with our eyes wide open. That is a tremendous challenge! Listening to the news is an exercise in torment.

    I was so touched by your comment at my place about Kim Phuc’s forgiveness, and I can’t help connecting it here too. Are the corporations and governments responsible for such widespread devastation forgivable? These are the questions each individual faces, and what kind of energy we wish to spill into the atmosphere.

    When I first really felt the effects of the economic downturn a year and a half ago, it took me a day of advising students to receive from them a rekindled hope that in hard times, art is more necessary than ever (just when funding for it gets cut too). I began pleading with my students to write about their difficulties, to make something beautiful out of suffering, because even pain can be beautiful.


    1. Ruth,

      Yes, we’re still having wet snow and rain today… but it’s the much needed moisture to end a dry spell, so I’m not complaining.

      I can understand the pessimism you share about what’s happening in our society, dominated by big corporations and political interests. “…I just don’t know when, or if, we can ever recover decency, or civilization.” Your words are poignant indeed.

      That said, I totally agree with you about the power of art, for it can bring back the ‘humanness’ where technology fails to do, for art is a vehicle through which the transcendent can reach deep into the human soul.

      On another note, re. my comment in reply to your mentioning Kim Phuc on your post. I was moved to hear her in person, speaking about how she gained peace and strength. She shared that since she herself had been forgiven by One who had loved her enough to give His life for her, she had in turn found love and the strength to forgive. Yes, she sought the pilot out to reconcile with him, and that’s extraordinary!


  8. Gorgeous photos, Arti! I liked the one with the fence accompanying the open road…where will it lead? As we all struggle to comprehend the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico–your pelican is my pelican; your deer ismy deer–we must prepare for the “ripple effects.” Will it reach the open ocean? Can the eco-system recover? How will so many people survive the elimination of their livelihoods? Is that permanent or temporary? The same questions, over and over.
    All due to corporate greed and hubris in its most original, Greek sense.

    Earthquakes, tsunamis, ice storms…at some level I truly believe that our planet is angry with us. No doubt that sounds silly, but it feels true. We are the species with the capability–and the responsibility–of protecting others, and we are failing. So I’ve decided to attempt one small positive thing each day, a token of appeasement: remembering to save the coffee grounds for “compost”; not using plastic bags; appreciating a chipmunk or a mushroom, or the gang of squirrels that tore through the trees this morning. Or reveling in the anomaly and beauty of snow in May, wishing I could climb into that photo of the road by the fence and follow it wherever it leads…

    It is late. This comment does not make much sense. You take wonderful photographs, and they are a celebration. Thank you.


    Thank you for your kind words. Your comment makes a lot of sense, especially with your resolution to a lifestyle change—making good use of coffee grounds. We’ve just started a curb-side recycling program here in our city, better late than never. What I’ve found is, most of our ‘garbage’ can actually be thrown into the recycle bin. Everyone of us has to start with a little something, however small a step.

    Thanks for sharing despite the late hour.



  9. whoa, such natural lighting you had! perfectly perfect for capturing these icy pictures – in May! nice nice nice! Even the single picture of the evergreen. These are wonderful and powerful given that I”m sitting in the oddly hot-and-humid.

    What a big world in a small space!

    As for the oil spill, let’s hope no one gets “used to it,” to the point of acceptance as they do with trash, bags, insouciant use of chemicals, etc.
    This is the strangest, slowest, very tragic race against continuous disaster that we are experiencing, and the background finger-pointing is the least of it.

    We may just this once prove Einstein wrong when he said that a person’s reaction to an event is based on proximity to that event.
    Ah, well, we are all close to this one; we just may not feel the ripple effects (sorry, had to use the term) for days or months and yes, years from the hot spot.
    Keep writing – keep writing about it! Those are our tools and they resonate!

    PS I have no corporate trip to Calgary booked for this summer, but will definitely let you know if that changes. It would be awesome to meet up and see your city beyond our offices!


    Well, I guess John Donne was more in-tune than Einstein then, when he wrote “…never send to know for whom the bell tolls…” you know the rest. And, like it or not, the Internet sure has linked us much closer than ever before, instantaneously too. Let’s just hope we’d use technology to the benefits of all human kind, and let art and the spiritual do their work as well.

    The next time you’re even close to Alberta, let’s say BC, do let me know. It’s only an hour’s flight from Calgary to Vancouver. You know, it’d be great to have a face-to-face conference for us all, somewhere in the real world… that would be one ultimate destination of our daily wandering in the blogosphere.



  10. I love the photos. Not much has changed since Rachel Carson wrote ‘Silent Spring’. Despite hundreds of research projects, papers and reports the almighty dollar still rules, to the dismay of thousands of conservationists. The success stories are a drop in the bucket compared to the ongoing destruction of natural resources. Those drops of water in the bucket need to increase to a Niagara to make a real difference.


    Well said. Thanks for sharing your view!



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