A Moment in Time

This blog has nothing to do with homesteading, renewable energy, growing food, or any of that stuff. This is just a blog to talk about me, Cam Mather.

Well, actually I just wanted to show you an old home movie.

We love to watch the movie “Home for the Holidays” every year during the holiday season.

Jodie Foster directed it and I think it’s a great movie. It has one of the best scenes ever in a movie, when Holly Hunter’s character sits in the basement with her father watching old home movies. At one point her Dad says, “…cause all of the sudden, one day you’re sittin’ in the cellar lookin’ at pictures on the wall, and you think, ‘that wasn’t me at all, that was some other guy.’” Later on he refers to a day he took his kids to watch an early flight of a Boeing 727 and he says, “… there you were, eyes wide open, you were fearless … great moment in my life. 1969. 10 seconds tops.” I just love that scene. A life captured in a 10 second video clip. A “Red Letter Day” as I like to call them here at Sunflower Farm.

I love old 8 mm movies. I am blessed because my parents made investing in a movie camera a priority. Fifty years ago this was a pretty big deal and I’m pretty confident they would have been hard pressed to afford it on my father’s paycheque that he earned as a teacher. But they did and now we have a collection of priceless moments from 50 years ago.

So I decided to write a blog post about old home movies. Perhaps a few of you have these old family home movies and can relate.

I’m not the only one who likes 8 mm home movies. Lots of other movies and shows use them, and there are a number of utilities out there to help you turn all those brilliantly clear and crisp High Definition digital video files into grainy, jerky, poorly lit knock offs of 50 year old 8 mm movies. It’s nice to have originals.

I love the fact that there’s no sound. The audio track is left entirely up to your imagination. I was going to dub in some music but that wouldn’t be true to the 8 mm movie experience. These movies are best enjoyed in a room full of family members who are laughing and analyzing and filling in the dialogue. And mocking each other.

Anyway, I recently got my family’s original 8 mm movies dubbed into a QuickTime file that I can edit in Final Cut Pro. Here is a short sample of a much longer version. I have focused this clip on me and removed lots of the stuff that was most likely to induce extreme dizziness. When Dad first got his camera he’d do a 360° pan of the scenery everywhere that he went, basically turning around as fast as he could without falling down. Watching them on replay has the same effect as those Japanese cartoons that have been known to bring on violent seizures (If you missed that news story you can find it here; http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9712/17/video.seizures.update/).

A quarter of a century later when Michelle and I bought our first video camera (the shoulder mounted size of a TV news camera from the 70s version) I did exactly the same thing. I guess the difference was I could play the movies right back on the TV and realize that I needed to calm down.

I have learned a lot about myself from watching these old movies. At one point I’m shown pushing a large, orange 3-wheeled tractor … obviously the beginnings of my interest in farming (even if I still don’t have a tractor!). In an early scene I am wearing a cowboy hat and a holster with a six-shooter. Later I pick up a random stick and point it at my sister like it’s a gun. I also spend some time in a field using that 6 shooter to shoot at imaginary stuff. For someone with quite a pacifist leaning today, I’m always surprised by my love of guns in my childhood.

There is a scene at the picnic table with my grandfather sitting beside me. He died shortly after this was filmed. I wish I’d got to know him better.

There’s a great scene at my grandmother’s cottage where my father gently tosses a bit of water at me and then unloads the rest of the bucket full bore on my sister. Sure, she was older, but I was clearly the favorite child.

I apparently was challenged at somersaults as a two year old, which would explain my poor attempts at anything gymnastic related in public school.

There’s a great summer scene with me entertaining myself with an empty juice can. I now have video proof when I tell my children that times were simpler when I was a kid. Eventually I heave the can at the camera… early signs of anger management challenges to come.

At one point I’m shirtless with slicked back hair hatching a plan with some of my buddies. It looks like we’re planning a prison break or some equally nefarious activity. I seem to have a bit of gut and am doing my best Tony Soprano mob boss impersonation long before the series was even conceived.

Several minutes of the reel are taken up with my aunt trying to get a t-shirt off my head. This is a sign either that I wore hand me downs or that my head was in fact already WAY too big even at the age of two.

I think one of my favorite scenes in this home movie shows me on my way to a birthday party. I am wearing a red vest and bow tie, looking like Damien from “The Omen” or the lead guitarist for AC/DC. When I arrive at the party all the other boys are wearing shorts and t-shirts. I’m the only guy wearing a tie. Really Mom? Why didn’t you just call me “Sue” and tape a “Kick me” sign to my back? I’m confident that later when the parents were distracted I was the victim of extreme violence for my nerdy outfit. That which doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.

When I think of how I spent my childhood years – warm, well fed, going to school, playing, managing to avoid major childhood diseases or injuries – I feel pretty blessed. To have been born at this amazing time in history when miracle drugs were available and fossil fuels did all the hard work. Such luxury. Such luck to be born when I was.

Old movies are a treasure trove of memories and they are a constant reminder that our time in this mortal incarnation is fleetingly short. They are an inspiration to me that taking the non-conventional road to living off-grid and being income challenged was the right path to take. A snap of the fingers and it’s all over. In the meantime, I will continue to try to create new moments to capture … great moments in my life … 10 seconds top.

2 Responses to “A Moment in Time”

Subscribe to this Blog!
To receive a notification whenever a new post is added, please provide your email address!
Do you enjoy this blog? Why not show your appreciation with a donation? Big or small, we are grateful for them all!
Find Us on YouTube!
Do You Shop at Amazon?
If you use this link to access the amazon website, we will earn a very small commission on anything that you purchase. (For amazon.ca, use this link first and then link through to the Canadian site from here.)
For information about upcoming workshops at Sunflower Farm please use the pull-down Workshop tab above. Hope to see you soon!
About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
Posts from the Past
Mother Earth News
Many of you found this blog through our writing on Mother Earth News. Use this link to subscribe to the magazine and I will receive a small commission, which helps me to pay for this site! Thanks! Here's the link to use; https://www.motherearthnews.com/store/Offer/EMEBGGAF