There were going to be Canada Geese flying away. And I thought a family would be there, taking pictures doomed to over-exposure in the snowy light. White clouds, blue sky, ice—symbols of winter. I saw road salt along the road. I envisioned dialogue, a child saying, “There they go.” A mother saying, “Do you hear?” I had in mind headaches, the cold and flu season, how bright snow can be, sinus pain. I heard the sound Canada Geese make. I had ideas about how it has meaning, all kinds of meaning, which direction they fly, how they mate for life, the V they fly in. I had questions about whether it was winter or late winter, about which kind of sadness it was, if it were sadness, about what kind of sky the geese were flying in, whether it was a morning sky or later, details. The fire of an ice fisherman, as an example. I thought it would be uplifting—the geese flying away, some arresting sentence to make you stop and think, something with blood in it, frostbite, hope. I planned for the smoke from the fire to drift through the leaving geese, the leaving geese to drift through the rising smoke, the family looking on, unmoving. I saw a hunter come out of the dead willows by the side of the frozen river. He would come closer and make everyone unafraid. The mother was to explain hunting to the children. I made notes in which the mother would wipe the nose of one of the children, then wipe the nose of the other, out of love, fair-mindedness. Much of this would be photographed, in my notes. I made a graph of the drama, tried to chart the feeling, so that when the smallest child started screaming, it happened at the right time. Something, some foreshadow, was to explain the hunter turning his back to go back into the willows. The smallest child was to jump up and down and imitate something no one could recognize. He was to laugh, be loved by the mother, flap his arms. It was to be quiet as winter, all lively sounds muffled, except for the sounds the geese were to make, the screaming. The booming sounds the ice was to make cracking slowly, then quickly, and then the splashing sounds.
The clouds were to go vividly overhead.
The water was to be so cold.
The mother was to try everything, a hockey stick, her scarf, a branch.
The ice fisherman was to yell, “Try to keep your heart out of the water. Don’t think of how it feels.”
The geese were to eventually be gone and the light was to change. Snow was to begin. I was to labor over the detail of a goose’s tiny black eye, of the snow, the light, the view from above, a tiny snowsuit thrashing in the water, a mother, a fire. An ice fisherman, the dead willows, the tracks of the hunter, these elements. Enough details were in mind, beforehand. The geese were to turn and fly overhead again. They were to circle. Possibly land again. Many notes were made on white paper as to the feelings. Predominantly, it was winter. Some failure, a slip, a failure of the ice, a turning away, a flying away from the blank white paper and snow, these things were to be always imminent, probable. The mother’s eyes, as the child broke the hole around him larger and larger, were to not be treated lightly. And the geese and the geese, flying away, unstoried.