It is the summer of 2017, and Nantucket, my dear childhood refuge, is saturated in the high, hot summer season; its quaint cobblestone streets bustling and boiling over. In spite of its enduring beauty, I seek adventure away from the tight arms of this island to take shelter in the cerebral space of distant places. I board the ferry, head up the coast, and meet my friend in Bar Harbor. From there, the road is our home.
It is only us, music, the dashboard, and the horizon. The excitement of exploration ignites me, a sensation long dormant finally seeing daylight. We stop in a small town in northern Maine, exploring its charming buildings and an old theater. But soon we push on, breaking into the vastness of Canada, feeling like Nomads. The lucidity of isolation sets in as we enter the outer reaches of North America.
Civilization has fallen away, making space for vibrant pastels of parakeet and cerulean. The silence around me converses as one, drawing my lens hypnotically across the earth and sky. Form and function are naturally intertwined approaching the shores of Prince Edward Island. Evolution is a surging mix of beauty and organized chaos scraped across Earth's canvass as living and breathing ecosystems.
Choosing a lens for this trek was not easy, with as many opportunities for portraits of cut-throat grosbeaks and herons as for heavenly landscapes. I settle on a wide-angle prime, unable to ignore the onslaught of colors surrounding me. Ridged, rusted cliffs jut from the shoreline as if bitten by enormous teeth. These sandy sculptures are the sole remnants of a long-defunct geological society.
Like old patrons sitting around a bar, they speak of past glory while the elements weather their features. This battle with time laid bare in every streak and crack. As the sun sets, shores glow like metal rods in a toaster, tempering every surface the light touches. Mars would spring an ocean in envy if she knew such red splendor exists here on Earth.
While traversing the delicate trails along Prince Edward Island National Park, sights both near and far can be instantly life-affirming. I often forget to raise my camera as I stand in awe, a small figure in a snow globe of circling birds. I am one stone hitting calm waters, reveling in the ripples we cannot see walking together in crowds.
Society seems distant, worries and thoughts shrouded by swirling color. All signs of the crudeness of human technology have faded. The photographer in me starts to feel small within the expanse of this sprawling tundra.
Though I came here in search of space and solitude, the city of Charlottetown is a comforting return for a dose of society. This oasis of brick and mortar standing at the edge of the Earth. The smells and sounds of the street are welcome. Whether shop owners or locals or other travelers, everyone seems ready for a spontaneous and warm verbal exchange.
My aperture seeks the shop windows and restaurants with their charming displays that draw the eye in creating a feeling of welcome hospitality. All around, the influence of Scottish settlers echoes the Anglo-Celtic Isles in names and architecture. I step into the Northern Watters Knitwear & Tartan Shop and am transported across the Atlantic, marveling at the authentic timelessness of these sweaters and blankets.
The founders of this settlement saw a sister home here, a raw piece of green and wild clay to mold into their new paradise. French explorer Jacques Cartier wrote upon first seeing Prince Edward Island in 1534, “The fairest land ‘tis possible to see, full of fine meadows and trees.” After all these centuries, the inhabitants of this island still see her as a gift to be treasured and tenderly stewarded.
I feel the voices of crowds fade in and out, the collective breath of community rejuvenating. Amid growth and the awe of personal evolution, always within the heart is a yearning for home. Travel feeds my soul, its ambition to always seek more pulling back and forth like tides in my life.
To those who seek a combination of sprawling terrain and open skies and the warmth of the people, it is the perfect handshake between the two. Adventure takes us far, away from our daily worlds, allowing us to communicate in new ways to both people and the planet.
Thanks for reading,