"Go as far as you can see; when you get there you'll be able to see farther." ~ Thomas Carlyle
When I started this blog I thought it would be entirely about photography. I intended to document and share as I learned: a place to keep notes, so to speak, and to exchange learning with others on a similar path. Very quickly I realized that photography for me was as much about the small and large adventures that ensued during my searches for subject and theme, as it was about the technical and artistic aspects. I also discovered that I occasionally had the courage to share writing that attempted some creativity – an entirely new venture for me. I soon removed the words “about photography” and added the category ‘The Journey’ to differentiate the posts. Six months down the road now, I have finally given consideration to its title.
I’ve chosen “On and Over the Hills” for several reasons. I love metaphor in general and this title works for me on several levels. My artistic and literary efforts, as anything in life, are journeys: they progress through barriers of wind-fallen timber, and up and down steep slopes with hard slogging through marshy ground and deep snow, and fitful rests on exposed beds of moist moss. This blog was one way for me to enjoy the process – to take in the view – without becoming too critical and unnecessarily analytical of my ordinary and imperfect work. It forces me to call some work finished and to move on despite knowing that someday I’ll be able to do better.
Geographically, all approaching roads literally wind uphill to my home. We locals often refer to it as ‘The Hill’. My life and therefore my photography, is naturally centred here. The title happily allows some expansion of that; some going beyond, or ‘over’. My journeys are seldom exotic, but they are journeys nonetheless and anywhere that is not familiar to me is exotic in my estimation – be it a small, hitherto undiscovered stream in the woods or an abandoned farmhouse one hundred kilometres away.
The new title makes a proverbial and accurate reference to my age. Unless I live beyond a century, I am decidedly over the hill of years. Far from being a limitation, it is easily understood that the downhill slope is much more easily traversed. I’m old enough to know that all journeys entail rises and falls, and wise enough to know that unless you’re willing and able to scale the next incline the journey may end in an uninhabitable morass. And again, within my new title, there is the intimation that I will continue beyond.
Possibly more publicly known, although somewhat oblique, is the connection to Robert Plant and J.R.R. Tolkien, both of whom I wholly revere as masters of their genre. ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ is a well-known Led Zeppelin tune that Plant wrote inspired by The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I love the mystery implicit in the song title and we will all have different ‘pocket(s)ful of gold’ that inspire us on our journeys.