The excitement of the new, different and exotic drives us to explore, to leave our hotel rooms and walk out into new cities looking for interest, quaintness and, hopefully, a bit of understanding. When I lived overseas I gladly took every opportunity to explore the city I lived in, the surrounds and the whole country.
However, since I’ve been back in my home country, despite living in a different state, that same excitement and wonder at difference hasn’t been a motivator. My friend, Stuart Sipahigil, is a great advocate for a ‘close to home’ approach with photography, and I took a leaf from his book.
So yesterday, with a rare day off work, I decided I would treat my new home exactly as if I was in an exotic location in another country. (And for people from other parts of the world – this IS an exotic location). I slipped on my good walking shoes, packed a spare battery and went off to find the interest, quaintness and, maybe, understanding that the many international visitors look for when they arrive in my little part of the world. What catches my eye, and camera, in other countries? Beauty, signs, glimpses of fascinating activities, people living ordinary daily lives that I will never lead. Patterns and textures, the foundations of ‘why’ and ‘how’ of that city, town or village. Interesting juxtapositions and contradictions.
Was I able to find them in my own small town? In abundance. This was not a brisk walk, this was a meander, with turns onto sea walls and paths beside railway tracks and rivers. I chatted to the local fishermen, lazing away their afternoon with a couple of rods leaning on the guard rails. I waved at train drivers, and waited while the big Pacific gulls drifted on the wind above me. I shared the attempt to shoo the silver gulls away from a picnic lunch and found it interesting how the natural beauty of the coast could, within metres, become an industrial site.
Close to home is exotic, and worth the walk. Next week, another direction to explore.