I’m kind of like Helen Hunt in Twister.
I say this a lot to my friends, and anyone who will still listen to my tornado encounter stories for the hundredth time. Though now, most of them have stopped politely listening, and instead curtly remind me that I am NOT, in fact, like Helen Hunt in Twister, and I have not, in fact, strapped myself to a water pipe in the face of a monstrous tornado. I have also never changed the face of meteorology with my invention and nearly died in the process, nor did I manage to do this while maintaining practically perfect hair and dewy skin down dirt roads in Tornado Alley. We can’t all be blessed with mid 90s style perfection.
But, I do have some storm chasing street cred (Road cred? Wind cred?) to back me up. I’ve been storm chasing with the Tornado Hunter himself, Greg Johnson. Twice, actually – I’ve clung to the roof of a chase vehicle and watched a ropey funnel cloud form above me, I’ve seen a tornado cross the road (presumably to get to the other side), and I’ve punched the core of a hail storm. Does any of that make me a seasoned chaser? Not even close. I spent half the time screaming and the other half asking too many questions. But it does make me seasoned in witnessing Greg’s passion for nature and life first hand, and it’s why I’m really excited about his new book, Why is the sky green?
If you’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy one of Greg’s presentations on his work, you’ve felt the passion first hand. But you don’t even need to see one of his talks to understand the extent of what he feels when he’s out in the field. Just meeting Greg in person, and seeing his eyes light up as he tells you about his favourite moments on the road, his scariest close calls, his quiet reflections, you feel it, instantly – the dream. Greg has ventured into scenarios that I think most of us have nightmares about in order to capture that balance of stillness and rage that exists in nature, and come out bruised and beaten, ready for more. He then chose to take on an even scarier beast, the world of self-publishing, and put together his second book to showcase the outcomes of these battles, highlighting terrifying and gorgeous skies from Saskatchewan to Texas and all points in between.
Greg is easily one of the more eccentric people I know (this is perhaps the least shocking statement to be made about a man who chases large noisy storms that tend to create utter devastation in their path), but then again, most dream chasers are. He puts every ounce of his passion into his photos, and his desire to capture those incredible moments – whether ferociously loud or perfectly still – drives him to push the boundaries of photography. He is a story teller in his own way, and his photographs tell the tale of a willingness to put every safe guard aside in an effort to capture that perfect moment, and a humbleness when sometimes we must accept defeat, and let nature end the show of her own accord.
We are proud to be carrying Greg’s new book at Mortise & Tenon, not just because it’s a great collection of his work, which it certainly is, but because we believe in supporting local dreams. We ourselves are eccentric dreamers, and this store was ours, and we continue to work as hard as we can to keep this dream rolling. Dreams are important, but sooner or later you have to put your money where you mouth is, or your camera where the tornadoes are, as it were, and make it happen. Greg doesn’t go out chasing nature’s beautiful moments to sell books (though I’m sure he would be delighted if you bought a copy of Why is the sky green?), he does it because he couldn’t imagine himself doing anything else. You feel that in every one of the pictures in his book, and we deeply understand that same drive. It’s why we wanted to sell his book in the store, and host a signing for all of you to come and meet Greg, and experience the excitement for yourselves.
So please come and join us on Wednesday, February 17, from 7-9 pm at Mortise & Tenon, where Greg will be delighted to meet all of you and sign some books. And if you like, I’d be happy to sign yours as well. I did storm chase with Greg Johnson, after all.