THE WINTER'S PASSAGE
There is no doubting how a long overland journey fires the mind with images, memories and emotions. The adventure began in January 2012, with a cargo ship from northern France, immediately sailing into a force 12 storm in the English Channel, followed by a twenty-five day crossing of the Atlantic, then driving ashore in Buenos Aires, continuing to Ushuaia - the southern-most town on the continent. After turning north, soon came the tundra, the desert, the mountains and the jungle - in no set order - the heat, the cold, the humidity, the altitude. Culture, people, history all held their place. A constant passage - so much to absorb. An exhilarating, six year odyssey. One hundred and thirty thousand kilometres travelled. Until, by the autumn of 2017, we arrived on the east coast of Canada, in Nova Scotia, and the return back home to Europe began.
The trans-Americas - it is truly a classic overland route.
Back home and my writing helps me to unload the jumble of thoughts, to put in order everything I’ve experienced along the way. It introduces structure to my reflections. I reach for my diaries and the photographs. They help sharpen the memory when I write and I muse, reliving the journey. Gradually, my impressions are words on paper. And then a book takes form. The passage is complete.
Where to next?
After six years of seeking stimulation and the challenge of the unfamiliar, it is time for stillness; a break from the road. Yearning for a winter spent, simply, in the Alps. To stay put and watch the passage of the seasons, to observe the days shortening, the breeze freshening. The cattle is led down from the alpine pastures. The leaves turn their vibrant autumn colours and fall. Waiting eagerly for the first snows. And then, finally, it tumbles as thick as goose feathers. The rush of the river is gone, the texture of the land vanishes. A silence, save for the crackling of the fire in the hearth. Skis are waxed, snowshoes adjusted. The holidaymakers come and the village swells. Out on the hills the turns are carved. Then the air warms, the covering of snow recedes and the ground softens. The move to spring is not a linear process. Nature takes its time. The cattle are restless in their barns, the forests shrug off their slumber. Squirrels chatter and the flowers cluster in the meadows. A raptor circles, hunting; the warm thermals carry him across the valley.
In this collection of photographs I have sought to capture the transition from autumn, through winter and then spring. They are not remarkable photos by any means. They are quite simply a record of the winter’s passage .
And then, just when you think it’s all over … GROUNDHOG DAY !!
James Marr is the author of SHORT STORIES FROM A LONG CONTINENT - THE AMERICAS OVERLAND.