Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Not Forgotten

It was one of my intended subjects for my Photo of the Day (POTD) project but I never got the chance to include it.

As part of my commute to work, I take Prince of Wales Drive, from Fallowfield Road to Hog's Back. In the early hours of the morning, traffic is much lighter than any other route, and if I leave for work before 6:30, I can be at my desk in 33 minutes.

It's a win-win scenario: I arrive early, get a lot of work done before the distraction of colleagues, and I can leave early in the afternoon, thus getting a jump on traffic on the way home. I always takes longer to return home, but by taking the same route, I can usually do so about 10 to 15 minutes faster than any other route.

On days when the sun rises during my commute, the orangy-yellow rays would cause the red barn of Blackrapids Farm to glow. And, in the evening, when a sunset cast a colourful glow off passing clouds, this old farm would look so welcoming.

Sometimes, it's difficult to pull over on Prince of Wales Drive. Before the construction, parts of the shoulder were so crumbled that you had to be careful not to hit a pothole and risk damaging the car's suspension. If there was a lot of traffic, there was a risk to your personal safety. But I told myself that when the lighting was right, I would capture this beautiful barn for my POTD.

On the first morning where traffic was light and the sunrise was perfect, I pulled onto the shoulder of the road. But my attention wasn't on the barn. It was a cold, late-winter morning, and there were ice crystals in the air. As the sun climbed above the horizon, a perfect sundog created a cat's eye in the sky. That had to be my daily photo.

It was early in the year. I had plenty of time to capture the farm.

When the snow disappeared, a resurfacing project began on Prince of Wales Drive. It was a long time coming. Finally, cyclists would have a safe roadway on which to make their commute. Unfortunately, the construction meant the end of pulling over to the side of the road. My plan to capture the barn would have to wait until the road work was done.

I first learned of the fire through social media. I read about the tragedy, online, of the loss of 80 cows. Prince of Wales Drive was closed in both directions as fire fighters coped with the blaze. I was so heartbroken for the loss of life (thankfully, no human life was lost), for the loss of a historic Ottawa landmark, that I didn't think about the loss of a photo opportunity.

By the time I was on my homebound commute, the road was opened in the southbound direction only, which was in my favour. Though the fire wasn't completely out, it was well under control. I had to see the destruction for myself.

I wish I hadn't taken the route. Smoke drifted across the road, over the pastures and toward the Rideau River, and even though my windows were closed, the smell of burned wood filled my nostrils. And then, something more.

Cooked meat.

Three days later, on my morning commute, I passed what was once the barn again, and there was a new smell in the air, as the farmers cleaned the area: rotting meat. I wouldn't drive past the barn again for about two weeks, opting to take Merivale Road as a detour.

So much loss. It really was sad.

As summer came, I would pass Blackrapids Farm and lament how the loss of the barn was so tragic, and how I had never been able to capture it for my POTD. My missed opportunity was insignificant, but I would always remember that farm, even though it wouldn't be a part of my project.

Over this past weekend, as I started looking at my rejected POTD photos, the ones I didn't use for my project, I noticed that many of them were still good photos and shouldn't be forgotten. I went through each file folder and pulled out some of the other decent photos.

In capturing my POTD of the sundog, I had forgotten that I had captured other images. The light was too perfect and I didn't know when I would get the opportunity to stop along the road again. After I had captured the sundog and before I climbed back into my car, I turned around and took one more shot.

The barn has never been forgotten. The cattle is remembered every time I pass what remains of the farm. But I also have a photo of the barn. Not used as a POTD, but captured as a memory.


  1. I had exactly the same feeling. I kept meaning to stop and photograph it - may even have done it once or twice. It was a beautiful farm and really nice-looking barns but I never actually featured it in my photo project... kept meaning to but hadn't.

    1. This tragedy is a reminder that we have to seize the opportunities when we can. You never know what the future holds.