On a warm November record-setting day, writer and photographer Brittany Lucas joined us at Drake Devonshire as part of our Artist in Residency series. Feeling energized, inspired, and connected within (and outside of our walls), she captured her experience in poetic character counts and 9 candid photos.
Summer in November
By Brittany Lucas
The unusualness of a warm day in November stays with you. Like a dream that feels vivid and long-lasting, you want to write down and absorb every detail while awake.
This particular day would be the warmest November day I would experience, beating a 63-year-old record set in 1959. Anytime a record is set, I think back to the previous record day and imagine what they did in those brief moments of reprieve and attempt to live up to these short-lived expectations suddenly pushed upon me. As my first day off in a week, I decided to spend it outdoors, swimming in a sea of open autumnal air.
When I arrive at the hotel, I immediately venture onto the back porch and sit on the steps, looking out onto a sun-drenched shoreline. The waves hit the water’s edge as I peer into the distance. Diamond sun crystals align themselves in a row, painting a picture of shapes against a cool wash of blue and white. I watch as the sun moves across the waves and imagine myself swimming on a deceivingly hot day. The calm lake appears to be waiting for its moment to pause, quietly inching closer to complete stillness. As I step onto the country road, a rhythmic beat of waves hitting the water’s edge follows me. Repeating the same soporific sound, it synchronistically tracks my footsteps. The streetlights cast a ray of hard light on the parked cars that sit idle under the warm glow. I take a seat on a bench and look up into the cloudy sky that appears to be stirring the heavy, orange-tinted clouds like honey. I think about how weather can change so quickly, reminding me that snow would fall at my feet in only a few weeks. Like reading a chapter in a book, I re-read the scene until I’m certain I’ve understood every last word before venturing back.
Walking along the residential street, I notice the last scarlet red flowers in a garden, still intact. They’re on their final days and the thought of the flower getting to live one more night makes their beauty seem more fragile and fleeting than ever. The red maple leaves dance in the night sky, falling quickly over me as they succumb to a wind that becomes undeniably colder as the night progresses. They, too, are nearing the end, and I can feel them saying goodbye.
I return to the hotel and sit on a vintage leather couch, stretching my legs out as I fall hypnotically into the patterns of colours that surround me. I can hear a certain cadence in voices that feels lifted and excited. The heat has left individuals with a strong memory, to be remembered fondly during cold January nights and rainy March mornings. A single unexpectedly warm day is a much-needed reminder of what we miss when it’s suddenly gone. I tell myself that if I can learn to take these hours in instead of anticipating the next, I’ll have a much more profound and meaningful catalogue of experiences in my mind. Life can become something that feels more tactile and tangible instead of ephemeral and forever missed. I head to bed and crack open a window that lets in a frigid gust of wind. The wind transplants me cuttingly into the present as I stand, reflect and miss the day that has suddenly passed.
Brittany Lucas is a photographer, writer and creative writing teacher from Toronto. Brittany’s work, which explores the beauty of mundanity and what is left unsaid, has been published and exhibited nationally. Brittany continues to search for the moments in between, often finding that those are the moments that hold the most meaning. Brittany is working on her first novel and hopes to have it published in 2023.