Summering: a Photographic Essay on a State of Mind
Summering, as a state of mind, involves a benign relationship to the outdoor after a long cold winter. It is the time when we feel liberated in our movements and freed to experience the outdoors simply, whether as individuals or in company of others, whether in contemplation or in social activities and cultural events.
The feature image, reprised below, shows the entry to a Montreal office building, where a sculpture of Atlas carrying the weight of the world on his shoulder keeps company with greening nature and an anonymous working stiff, on a cigarette break, who seems to experience a foretaste of summer.
The following photographic essay illustrates social aspects of that experience, from a meditative individual at a “café terrasse,” to a couple of elderly friends resting on a park bench, a birthday celebration in a park and the musical closure of an annual outdoor art exhibition.
The meditative lady seated alone at a table of the Westmount Park “café terrasse” seems lost to a world symbolized perhaps by her utilitarian bag, and the distant corner of an upscale apartment building … a penny for her thoughts!
The two elderly ladies seated on a bench by the pond of the same park seem to leisurely take in the view of the distant greening landscape, while the standing man at the edge of that pond seems more interested in its wading ducks. A momentary crisscrossing of interests held together by the spirit of summering.
The spirit of summer of this outdoor birthday celebration is colourfully rendered by the multicoloured balloons, the red bags and table cloth and the distant yellow children play equipment. Our visual attention to the scene is helped by being sunlit while the surrounding trees shadow pattern seems to “enclose” the event.
The musical ending of an outdoor art exhibition is provided by a marching band performance of “When the Saints Come Marching In.” That performance attracts the visitors to momentarily gather near it while still carrying on their conversation and their enjoyment of the art and riverside viewing … the pleasures of summering.
Any passage from one season to another will bring its share of relief from their extremes. As the tender greenery and mild temperatures of spring give way to announced summer climatic extremes we may soon be retreating to climatized indoor venues.
Let us therefore enjoy the beginnings of this summer, making it easier to bear what could come next!
All photos were taken by the author.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maurice Amiel, M. Arch. (U.C. Berkeley) is retired professor of Environmental Design at the School of Design, University of Quebec at Montreal, where he was involved mainly in environment-behaviour teaching and applied research projects. In order to promote environmental awareness, he has turned after retiring to documenting and writing about various physical and human agents contributing to a sense of self, place and sociability ... I wish to add to my interests the fundamental role of light in photography and the visual structure of all 2D forms of artwork.