*Part 1 of the ED BANNISTER series. Extract from my Photography blog, Through Frog Eyes. Each month a guest photographer is featured and a short story is woven around a set of photographs. This is where photography and creative writing find a common platform. For this month, all the stories will be connected in a series, ushering in Thanksgiving and Advent. Please click on the link to read the previous stories and the complete version of the story below with the full set of photographs.
Alexander slammed the door of his jeep shut and placed both hands on the steering wheel, mentally wishing it were someone else’s neck. Waiting until his breathing normalised again, he glanced quickly around the car to check that his bags and equipment were there before starting up the engine. There were days he wished he could simply pack up and disappear into the mountains forever, never having to deal with taxes, deadlines, lawyers, and worst of all, editors. Up there the only element there was to contradict his decisions was the weather, and Mother Nature was the one female in the world he allowed himself to be bossed around by. He was passionate about his work, and good at it as well, as the shelves of awards proved, but he did not often have a choice when it came to assignments. This latest bombshell that his editor had dropped on him was going to send him to hell and back, and there was no guarantee of coming out of it alive. At least he had been given carte blanche for putting a team together, and no expense was to be spared. He grinned at the thought of his accountant and insurance agent blowing their tops again when he submitted his receipts for auditing or claims. Being the best in his field came with pitfalls, being constantly on the road was one of them, and never knowing if he would see the morrow was another. Airports and highways were like a revolving door to him, given the frequency with which he travelled.
For the last assignment, Alexander had taken no notice of the rhythm of the seasons as they came and left. They were like silent ghosts passing through his life without really making a difference one way or another. In fact, he couldn’t even remember in which hemisphere he had witnessed Spring this year, if at all. The only thing was mattered was maintaining his cool in order to remain objective when investigating and later putting the facts together for a comprehensive and in-depth piece. That was easier said than done though, since the subject matters he specialised in were always taboo, controversial, and pushed him to the verge of insanity each and every time. Not that he was a cynic, but there was no such thing as a correct side, and the pursuit of truth was something that often came hand-in-hand with peril and sacrifice, not necessarily his own. This was the age “artificial information” as he called it, the internet providing more confusion than truth for those who sought it, and Alexander was not about to succumb to second-hand research done in front of a screen. He knew the strength and value of a solid step, a grip on the side of the mountain when you did rock climbing, and transferred these values to his work ethic.
There were still a few days to spare before leaving and Alexander decided to seek strength and inspiration in the only place that offered his body and soul the solace he needed: the mountains. His friends often laughed at him for preferring the seduction of the rough terrain to the bright city lights, but the open spaces, the embrace of the mountain air, the welcoming soil beneath his trekking shoes, and the kiss of the morning sun were the priceless romance his spirit needed when things got rough. He could close his eyes and be transported back to his favourite places when need be or he felt the onslaught of another anxiety attack. The remedy his soul yearned for during such moments could be found at dawn at 10,000 feet.