in rural Paris, Iowa, and Wordpress

One of the Itinerants

–20 March 2006

On 8 November 2009 Chris appeared at my little pop-up camper trailer in which I was still living at the time. He had come to say goodbye and to ask a favor before he left. He produced a beat up little Fuji Film FinePix A700 camera that he had been carrying around in his backpack as he wandered all over western North America in previous years. The card in the camera was full. He asked me to transfer the images to a disk for him.

It had to have been a relatively large card. He had been shooting at the maximum resolution the little camera would handle at ISO 400 and there were around 850 images on the camera that had never been off loaded. Miraculously, he was able to produce the cable to connect it to my notebook from his backpack. In return for my transferring the images to a disk for him, he made a gift to me of copies of those images. I did not think much about it at the time.

Chris’s backpack somewhere down the road on 22 March 2006.

Chris was from Belgium. Our time together had lasted for five eventful months. He had done some time in the Belgian army in his youth. That had apparently not been a happy experience. Beyond that he never spoke of Belgium or his people there. I have never in my life before met a man so out of joint with his time and place. Chris ought to be living in 1876 and riding a pony with circles painted around its eyes and black hand prints on its rump. He ought to be heading toward the Little Big Horn in Montana with an eagle feather in his hair for a showdown with the white man. Everything about his walk and his talk and general demeanor conveyed that image to me. He had completely given himself over to indigenous western North American culture. He was lost to our contemporary world.

Chris had studied for some time with an Indian medicine man in Canada. During our acquaintance, among other things, I attended a Temazcal, a sweat lodge ceremony, that he hosted in return for donations. I made it through the duration of the thing. He did a masterful job officiating that dangerous sport in my opinion. He also hooked me into participating in something called a Trance Dance that he hosted, again for donations. The less said about that the better, lest I be locked up. He also made his primitive art that he sold, catch as catch can. I use the term “primitive” in the descriptive sense rather than the pejorative sense. I still have one of his drawings in colored pencil titled “The Face of the Comet.”

When last I saw him, he was headed back north to parts unknown. Since then I have discovered some remarkable images in his collection and have determined to post some of them. The dates of the images shown here are those reflected in the file data stored by his camera.

Chris, wherever you are, I hope you are safe.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

20 March 2006

20 March 2006

Obviously, Chris’s host for the evening . . .

20 March 2006

. . . and the bed provided for him.

26 February 2006

Lady in the evening with his drum. I know that to be his drum . . . or perhaps he got the drum from her.

[Since posting this entry, I have constructed a Page with a Gallery of assorted photographs taken by Chris. You can take a look at that Gallery here.]

8 Responses to “One of the Itinerants”

  1. michelpellerin

    I know a guy similar to him. He traveled in South America at the end of his teens and he is with a Bolivian women since. Instead of integrating society, he travels all around the world. The further, the better. Now near his thirties, he is definitely «out» of the society but he seems so happy and at peace in his mind…

    Reply
    • StephenBrassawe

      I keep one foot planted firmly in the contemporary world. So far I am content doing so even though a bit of a straddle is involved.

      Reply
  2. vanessa seijo

    It takes a lot of courage to up and go. At least, that seems the way to me, tea-sipping teacher that I am. I love the sign, “abre tus ojos”, it’s not enough to have a light.

    Reply
    • StephenBrassawe

      What a pleasant surprise, Vanessa! Thank you for stopping here. A perceptive comment, too. But of course, I would have expected nothing less.

      Reply
    • StephenBrassawe

      I am happy that you enjoyed it, marissa. And there has been more than one itinerant. I collect them. All will be here in due time.

      Reply

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