On and Over the Hills

"Go as far as you can see; when you get there you'll be able to see farther." ~ Thomas Carlyle

Frank Frank and the Fish Trap: The One That Got Away

My reaction was unwarranted: quickly moving back from the bluff edge and back through the small gap in the fence, but towards the man who had called out to me. I had just unintentionally flushed a family of grouse who had fluttered up in front of me, protesting noisily. As they flapped clumsily down the steep bluff at my feet, Katy, my dog, who already had a sore leg caused by her energetic enthusiasm, started after them on three speedy legs, but luckily listened when I called her back.

We had stopped to stretch our legs at the Fish Trap Rest Stop on Highway 5 near Barrière, British Columbia. I immediately grabbed my camera, jumping at the chance to take some pictures from the ground rather than from the moving vehicle as had been my entertainment for the past two days.

The rest stop had been built at the edge of the high eastern bank of the North Thompson River. I ran to the rather flimsy fence that rimmed the steep scrub-covered bluff and made my way along it shooting picture after picture of this moving view. A rich foreground of vegetation stood out out against the swiftly flowing river and train track below, and the smoke-shrouded wooded hills beyond.

The smoke from the forest fires was still fairly thick here, although the hot-spot of sun was visible through it. The far bank and hills beyond had a special, mysterious atmosphere: like fog, but not. This was much more even than any fog that I have experienced. There were no gaps; no lighter or heavier areas. The colour, of course was different as well, although, as I’ve mentioned before, I can’t really say what colour it was!

So after flushing the grouse and retrieving my dog, when I turned to see the man coming towards the small gap in the fence that was built to protect people from their own stupidity, my heart was beating just a little faster than usual. That probably accounted for the slight paranoia that sent me skittering back through the hole in the fence, away from the ‘cliff’ edge and of necessity, toward the man.

He was 73, he told us later, and he looked it, but in the best kind of way. He looked fit and energetic and right away I was captivated by the character-map of his face accentuated by his impish grin. My slight fear was immediately obliterated by curiosity. Here was a man with stories.

“What are you doing?” he asked me, with a high pitched break on the final word like an adolescent whose voice is changing…or like an enthusiastic old man.

“I’m just practicing. I’m learning to take pictures.”

I don’t know why I’m afraid to say ‘photographs’ or why I always make sure that people don’t assume that I might think I’m a photographer. I guess I don’t want to raise any expectations. There’s an interesting discussion along those lines here on photographyfree4all’s blog.

Anyway, he wasn’t interested in my camera or photography but by then we had been joined by my husband, Jim, who might have had the same initial reaction as I did to this stranger approaching me.  The questions flew. The old guy wanted to know all about us: who we were, were we came from, what we did for a living.

“I’m Frank”, he said bluntly, and then he giggled. “I get in trouble – I’m frank Frank! I’ve been traveling for 20 years. How old are you young lady?”

Well, I guess he’s been traveling since he was my age. He told us he’s been on the road selling his crafts, which unfortunately we never got around to finding more about. He was raised up north outside of Dawson City, where his father treated and recycled their personal sewage for his gardens. Growing up, he had a friend that experimented with solar power and thermal heat! He’s lived throughout the interior and he was on his way back down to a milder climate from the Yukon, where he’d spent several winters.

Katy waiting patiently by the hole in the fence. She's a mutt, but she's an awesome mutt.

“May I take your picture?” I asked after we’d talked for a while.

Frank backed away, raising his elbows slightly as if to shield himself. “Are you the police?” he asked with a grin.

“I don’t know. Are you running?” I quipped.

“Not yet!” He giggled and the subject was dropped.

I did get a picture of him with his elbow on Jim’s shoulder before we parted ways. But it came with a promise to keep it to ourselves.

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11 comments on “Frank Frank and the Fish Trap: The One That Got Away

  1. bobzeller
    September 4, 2010

    Cindy, I love your narratives. You have a great knack for writing these stories. I am anxious to see some more of your photos that aren’t smoky, although you have done a great job with them. Your composition is really good, and I don’t know if you really need my help. You seem to be doing very, very well on your own. And, by the way, don’t be afraid to say that you are taking photographs.

    When I am doing shows, someone will invariably ask me, “did you take all these pitchers?” (their spelling, not mine). Well, of course, duh…. my name is on all the framed pictures, and I’ve signed the prints. I just cringe. 🙂 A little kid said, “gee, you must have been to all the places in your pictures.: 🙂 One lady said that I must have a great camera. I told her that if she is a good cook, she must have great pots and pans.” 🙂

    Of course, I take it all in stride. It is funny what the public can come up with. Even my wife asks me sometimes, “Are you going out to take pictures”. 🙂 What’s a guy gonna do?.

    Bob

    P. S. Picasso must have a great set of brushes. 🙂

    • missusk76
      September 4, 2010

      Thank you so much for the compliments, Bob! You are so very encouraging and I really appreciate it. Love your anecdotes about the reactions you get at your shows. If I ever get to the point with my ‘photography’ :), I’ll remember to ‘take it in stride’.

      P.S. The Wright Brothers must have had some amazing tools, too! 🙂

    • missusk76
      September 4, 2010

      P.S. There are lot of non-smoky pictures on my Flickr photostream. 🙂

  2. photobyholly
    September 4, 2010

    Cindy,
    I agree with Bob – you have a wonderful way of bringing the photos to life with your great stories! You ARE a photographer!! The way I see it, anyone who loves the art of photography, whether they are brand new, or have done it for 50+ years, is a photographer! You don’t have to go to school to call yourself that, you don’t have to have a certificate to prove anything. A photographer is someone who has a vision, wants to capture that vision either for their own enjoyment, or to share with others. You are doing a wonderful job, I always enjoy seeing your new posts!! 🙂

    • missusk76
      September 4, 2010

      Thank you, Holly. I really appreciate your support and your comment. I just have to drum it into my thick skull! 🙂

  3. themichaellamcollection
    September 6, 2010

    That’s another great set of images, makes me long for the outdoors and the open savannahs we have, sigh….
    I love the narrative as much as the photographs, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to see Frank Frank after your description 🙂
    Keep shooting!

    • missusk76
      September 6, 2010

      Thank you, Michael. I’m disappointed I couldn’t show him to you – he was such a character! But a promise is a promise, even if he’d never know. And maybe he really is running from something! 🙂

  4. julianhoffman
    September 10, 2010

    Cindy, I’m slowly exploring your blog as I’m on holiday at the moment, but couldn’t wait to have a look. I’m already as captivated by your images as you were by the “character-map” of Frank’s face. Not only is that a delightful image in words but it lends depth to the photographs in general. They are painterly and evocative, as though personal yet universal. And the little that I’ve seen of some of your other landscapes I already feel an immediate pull towards them. They speak to me in a wonderful and mysterious way…
    Cheers,
    Julian

    • missusk76
      September 11, 2010

      Thank you, Julian. I’m truly honoured that you have shown an interest in my work. I aspire to your calibre of eloquent, illustrated story-telling.

  5. pixilated2
    September 14, 2010

    I always have an aversion to letting fences get into my field in the camera’s view finder. Yet, today when I looked at your photos it was the rusty old wire fencing that made the pictures so charming, or at least it seemed so to this untrained eye. Next time I encounter a fence I think I will play with a few shots that include it.

    • missusk76
      September 15, 2010

      I too had always looked at fences as obstacles to be overcome. It was others’ photographs that inspired me to look at fences differently. Whether we like it or not they are part of our landscapes and can give a whole different feeling to an image. Thank you for your compliment.

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