1939 Nash LaFayette

A photograph of a decaying and abandoned green 1939 model year Nash LaFayette antique automobile car in a field of yellow grass in Saskatchewan, Canada

Fences and my aversion to crossing them without permission conspired against a closer view of this crusty-but-delightful subject — part of someone’s field-decorating collection in Saskatchewan — but that’s why zoom lenses were invented.

NFAID # 1007

#1007

The twang-spangle of water through a culvert. The trickle that tickles something depthless in the soul — you remember it. You were young enough, small enough, to fit inside that big one near your house, exploring. Corrugated, galvanized tube of endless darkness, the weight of the world bearing down upon it, compressing it into an oval. Ovum. Life’s fount and terminus found in the sewers. Your child-voice expanding sonorously, bouncing back at you with a jangled, acoustic warp. A rich tapestry of organic cycles. The dark sound of the water — the sound of death, you’re now sure. It’s the last sound you’ll hear when it all ends, that sound of memory, of water trickling away. The soundscape of drainage. The hollow and metallic echo that resonates at the end of all existence.

Prometheus

A photograph of a dead tree, a three-limbed limber pine famously known as the Burmis Tree, fastened to a rocky ridge in the Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada, by steel bands, with dramatic sky overhead.

Like the ancient Champion of Mankind in Greek mythology, the famous Burmis Tree (or at least this dead semblance of its former self) is bound by iron to rock. I’m not sure if it is visited daily by hungry eagles, but I suspect quite often by crows. I amped up the drama in this photo to better reflect the title’s mythic influence.

Brother My Cup is Empty

A sepia-toned photograph of a bleak prairie scene, sparse grass, a fence, and a single, leaning tree, devoid of foliage. The photograph has been artificially aged with scratches and dust so as to appear antique.

This scene seemed to cry out for a bit of sepia and grunge to simultaneously (and paradoxically) emphasize and soften its bleakness, so I obliged. The title is robbed from a song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, a band responsible for music that accomplishes much the same.

The Supreme Order of Pantologists and Hierophants

Their intimidating factory looms over the land, endlessly spewing forth the emanations of the labour of its mysterious operators. P&H: The Supreme Order of Pantologists and Hierophants. Little is known of them, and even less of their purpose. The people of the land know only this: their factory has always been there, and the nightly dreams of entire generations of children have been fed by the unfathomable sounds that escape the cold, stone depths of its oblique walls — a steam-clank gear-gnashing of machinery beyond their imagining.

There is a story about The Supreme Order of Pantologists and Hierophants, told only by the eldest of those who live in the mighty shadow of the factory, and then only in the hushed tones employed by those who understand they risk everything in the telling, for the story dares to suggest an understanding of the Order’s machinations.

Once, the story goes, long ago, a great storm raged over the land, lasting several days. Floods ravaged all, destroyed crops and villages, drowned livestock. Thunder crashed deafeningly and ceaselessly, threatened to drive all who lived beneath its reverberations mad. That which was not washed away by the churning waters was burned into ashes by lightning strikes. Except for the Great Factory of The Supreme Order of Pantologists and Hierophants — it stood fast, defiant and undamaged, the smoke and steam of its industry that plumed forth from the stack barely visible through the driving rain. As all below and around it was laid waste, the P&H factory continued its mysterious fabrications, the lower six stories of its windows and doors remaining as they had for all of human memory: walled up, sealed. For no one ever entered the factory, and no one ever left. And yet, the people of the land knew that The Supreme Order of Pantologists and Hierophants indeed resided within those walls — and on the final night of that Great Storm so long ago, the story goes, they were offered a rare moment of proof. For those lucky (or unlucky) enough to witness it, it was a mad and wondrous sight: upon the roof, his dark robes whipping about him in tempestuous frenzy, a pale figure, his thin voice almost lost in the thunderous cacophony of the storm. A fist raised in defiance, a finger pointed in accusation. This lone member of the Supreme Order of Pantologists and Hierophants stood upon the roof of the Great Factory and screamed at the skies above him. Not all of it could be heard by the people below who clung to life and whatever floated past them, but, the elders say, part of it was unmistakable and rang with a sonorous clarity: the entirety of human knowledge, the man is said to have screamed at the raging skies — the entirety of human experience, the ESSENCE of humanity! We must NOT — But the rest was lost to the wretched people who struggled below him, obliterated by thunder. And seconds later, the defiant figure who stood upon the roof of the Great Factory of the Supreme Order of Pantologists and Hierophants was himself obliterated by a terrifying blast of lighting. On the next day, the storm abated and the flood waters receded. The P&H factory continued its arcane work as it had for all of known time. Of the lone robed figure on the roof, no trace was ever found.

And that is all that anyone knows of the Supreme Order of Pantologists and Hierophants — their unceasing factory, their relentless endeavors of unknown purpose, and the ravings of a single madman — a resident of the village who had somehow scaled the factory’s walls to escape the rising floodwaters and who had been rewarded for his efforts with death. Or so stated the sparsely-worded leaflets that had fluttered into the soggy streets of the village the day after the storm’s end — dropped by unseen hands (with what must, one assumes, have been the most casual flick of a wrist) from the highest window of the monolithic factory of the Supreme Order of Pantologists and Hierophants.

A black and white composite photograph of a concrete P&H grain elevator and flour mill with heavy mammatus clouds in the sky above it.

Diamond in the Rough

A photograph of the front end of a rusty, decaying, antique 1948 Diamond T Model 201 pickup truck, abandoned amidst other autos in a field of grass in Saskatchewan, Canada

A 1948 Diamond T Model 201 pickup truck, splendiferous in its corrosion.

I photographed this in 2007 in a ghost town along the Red Coat Trail in Saskatchewan. The crop is too tight, an unfortunate result of cramped conditions (another decrepit vehicle was located directly behind me) and a wide-angle lens that could, at least in this situation, have benefited from another mm or two. But I’ve always liked it anyway, crop be damned, so here it is.

The Drowning

A photograph of a rusty ship's anchor chain half-submerged in ocean water, with seaweed that looks suspiciously like human hair underwater and just visible at the edge of the frame.

Abihud Quinlin swore an oath he’d never tell the Captain what he’d witnessed, but the Bosun’s Mate made sure of it.

I have a bit of a dark streak (those who know me nod) — where others see a pleasantly rusty anchor chain emerging from calm, clear waters, I see something a little more sinister. That might be seaweed at the extreme right edge of the photo, or it might be human hair.

Never having learned to swim probably contributes to this skewed perspective.