Personal Cinema; Crossings

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Personal Cinema is a way for me to look back on the images and tell the story behind some of the ones that have moved me and that have some insight to offer into how it came to be. These images really have become my personal cinema, frames from my life living here in Poland, stories that move me. I hope you enjoy this series.

I don’t mind the winter weather at all and in fact, get quite excited about it and the differences it offers. I love the snow and colder temperatures and the rich light that comes from a low hanging sun. After arriving in Poland, I really discovered just how much I love this season while being able to maintain my dislike for March. I also discovered for the first time in my life, how four distinct seasons work and the joy of discovering changes throughout the year would affect me in positive ways. Back home, we really have two. Wet and dry. (Kidding…but sometimes if seems to be true).

I am also keenly aware of how much winter is loathed here and the variety of reasons why (and elsewhere too) so no need to fill me in there. And I am no fan of the quality of air from coal smoke and exhaust either. That aside, I find plenty to inspire me during these months.

March has always been a difficult month for me and here it is hardly the exception as I feel the days begin to get a little longer and just a touch warmer, teasing of the spring to come that, by this time in winter, I can hardly wait to see. Growing up in Seattle it was always wet. I mean really wet. With a variety of wet to choose from. Drizzling rain that drenched the soul, cold rain that freezes you , hard rain that soaks everything it comes across, mixed snow and rain making a mess and when it wasn’t raining, it was gearing up to. And the blur between winter and spring was often obscured by the haze of rain making the transition impossible at time to decipher. Maybe it wasnt as bad as that and when it was sunny it made you question if it was really as bad as it seemed. Still, I had to move to Los Angeles to dry out and learn to appreciate the rain all over again. But that is another story.

Winter was something that I had not truly experienced like other parts of the world do. I never had to battle sub-zero temperatures for more than a week at a time and snow was something that would only occur on occasion and when it did, it didn’t last for more than a few days. Once in a while, it lasted longer. I can count on my two hands the times it did last for a week and still have fingers left to count with. To get real snow, we headed to the mountains to ski and play, enjoying the wonder of it and then retreating back to the lower wetlands to warm up. In cinema and on TV I would watch as other places battled a real winter and wondered what it would be like to do so.

March is also that time that it seems winter and spring are battling for dominance. And it leaves me always feeling a bit strange, tired, off, listless…perhaps you can relate. So a March with lots of snow was a new experience for me and one that I vastly enjoyed finding odd satisfaction and inspiration in the daily endeavors.

When I shot this image in March of 2013, Poznan had been getting snow once a week since the end of October of 2012 and for the most part I was pretty stoked about it. I was running Bigfoot Coffee Shop and watching the winter through the window while drinking delicious hot coffee and entertaining all who happened in. Sometimes the place would get so packed it would rain condensation inside (it was a small 13 meter square place, but it would get packed…like sardines!). One of my favorite vantage points to catch people walking by was at the intersection of Ratajczaka and Taczaka street (the image shows the crossing) and for a while I was really entertained with this idea and loved how the focus on the person would narrow the street a bit, blurring the backdrop.

So here we are in March, snow been falling since early morning and I made my way to the coffee shop shooting along the way. I was at the entrance to the Pasaz Apollo where my store was at when I saw this lady in the red hat making her way through the accumulation, which was not a small amount as you can see. Nothing was really moving through the city and I had seen barely anyone else wandering around as I made my way down compelling me to get this shot of her crossing my favorite intersection. Dropping my goods (this is a common theme in my morning shooting) I positioned myself and took the shot as she carefully made her was across the intersection.

Being new to Poland and the amount of snow that fell here, I was still in awe of how people cope with it. When it snows or even if there is a threat of snow in my hometown of Seattle, the city stops. Literally. Schools close, transit stops and people don’t commute to work. Its dangerous. Snow is rare and when it does get accumulation, it takes time before an adjustment can occur and the city can make the roads safe again. Look on YouTube for Seattle snow and you will see. Here, in Poland it has impressed me so much how it is just a standard of life. Winter is not loved, but people go about their business and do as they normally do. This lady out going about her day really resonated with me. It spoke of a history very different from mine and where she was going, who knows, but the fact that she would dress up, brave the snow and get going says a lot. Me? I am new. I don’t know any better. And besides…who would I call into work to?

My first winter in Poznan was a lesson in perseverance and dedication for me and my daily adventures of running a coffee shop in extreme cold and using my camera in ways that it would survive often keeping it inside my jacket and bringing it out for a quick snap. I love this image and go back to it time and time again enjoying the solitude and quiet of the moment. It was so quiet on the street I could heat her walking through the snow from across the street. Pure magic and I forgot my dislike for March immediately. I stood there for some time just appreciating this snowfall and the serenity of it all. And as the title suggests, these times were crossings of my own. Gaps in my life that I feel I had somewhat missed but could now appreciate in a completely foreign land.

It continued to snow through Easter that year and I thought that warm days would never return. And listening closely to some of the regulars that came into the Coffee Shop, I wasnt alone in that belief as tales of the eternal winter were tossed around dipped with a heavy dose of anxiety because of it as the dread of leaving would suddenly make a second cup of coffee all the more appealing. The tales of winter in Poland are legendary, everyone has at least one and I listened with rapt attention to a fair share of them describing scenes of snow as high as he ceiling and temperatures so cold that it would instantly freeze anyone who ventured out. I would wonder where the Polar bears went to. I also discovered and love how winter can bring people closer together and in this tiny coffee shop I am honored to have been able to witness and facilitate a little bit of it.

Eventually, winter made way to Spring and all of this was forgotten and became the fodder for legend the next winter and the one after. I captured many scenes like this one throughout the winters In Poznan and I am grateful for the experience of having done so and will share some of them soon.

I dislike March but I do love Winter. Viva la Zima as I used to say to a few dear friends and tease them with it, watching them cower in mock horror. Almost like garlic to a vampire. Try it.

But it is now just the start of autumn and winter is a long way off. Or is it?

Thank you for entertaining my little cinema with me.

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