February 11th, 2014 (Relentless)

by Steven Townshend



In November I treated myself to the luxury of ScanCafe. I sent a box containing over 3,000 old film negatives to the scanning company, and last Thursday received the preview images of the work the company had done. While this wasn’t exactly cheap, it beat the time cost of doing it myself, and having all these old memories digitally accessible will be worth the price.

Over the past week I’ve been looking over the images I took with my first camera, a Canon SLR my grandfather gave my father for Christmas around 1972. Many of the later images suffered from shutter drag, so several prints are darkly shadowed at one side or another, and there are many images that I shot when I didn’t know what I was doing or how to frame a shot. Even so, when I reviewed the scans to tell the scanning company which ones to trash and which to keep, I had trouble letting go of my mistakes. The dark and blurry photos were my first dim view through the camera’s eye. I didn’t want to trash my mistakes, I want to always remember them; I’m fond of them in a way.


It’s the first day in weeks that mountains of snow aren’t falling down around us or subzero temperatures aren’t drying our tongues, stiffening our nostrils, whiskers, skin, and hair. The sun is in the sky, the wind is tame, and there’s not a mote of snow in the air. After over a month of the former, a few days in the low ’20s are a blessed relief.


Another Valentines Day approaches, another anniversary for me watching the Earth turn a full cycle around the sun; it’s introspective, as usual.


The show in our Netflix watch list has been the BBC series Monarchy, which tells the story of the kings and queens of England from the anglo-saxon period to the present. It’s interesting to see both how civilized and how barbaric the rulers were, especially when you consider that there’s nothing fundamentally different about these people, biologically speaking, than us today. We’re separated by a thousand years, only an eyeblink in the span of our species. It made me think how tenuous our grasp on civilized society–how one big disaster could throw us over the brink, back into barbarism, and we no different, really, no less brutal or barbaric (or civilized) than the people of the dark ages. 


Posting old photos of friends has put us back in touch again. Years later, with families and children, most are still the people I knew from way back–more reserved, maybe, but still the same at their core–and as the photos circulate around the social networks, other friends from long ago reach out and we reconnect. If there’s a drug that keeps me going, reconnection is what it is.