A year in the life – Polek Rybczynski hand-picks his favourite 13 images of 2015

I invited our weekly photo contributors to go through their own archives and do a year-in-review visual extravaganza, to help us close out 2015.

Polek said, “I didn’t think I shot much this year. I thought I’d only have a couple.” In the end, he had 13. And the whole retrospective process reminded me of Braden Dupuis’s great column in the Pique last issue:

I doubt I’m alone in saying it, but these days, I don’t have much time for personal reflection. Life is one big rush to the next immediate task, responsibility or deadline; it’s all taxes and bills and alarm clocks.

It’s an at-times stifling routine that is seemingly building to some ill-defined, unimaginable end.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel like anything more than just another speck in the void.

But it’s difficult, too, to fully appreciate the depth and breadth of the lives we live as the days and weeks are whipping past.

It’s only when we take the time to reflect that we see things for what they really are.

If you have reflections to share – thoughts, photos, events, invitations – with your neighbours and community members, we welcome them. Email thewellnessalmanac@gmail.com or editor pembygrl@gmail.com with your questions or ideas.

Sky over Panama

Sky over Panama – On a recent surf trip to Costa Rica, I looked out of the plane window just in time to see this. I was totally spent as I had not slept all night and had already been in transit for around 24hrs. When the sun’s first rays started to punch through the horizon all of my tiredness went away. It’s one of my all-time favourites, watching sunrises out of a plane window. This one had my skin full of goose bumps. I had not seen cloud formations like this before and flying through them with these colours made my day and took the sleep deprived pain away.

Calypso Orchid

Calypso Orchid – The true gem of the forest floor in my mind. Oh how i love these tiny but mighty flowers. I look forward to spring each year so i can go and hang out with them again.

Kitchen window

Kitchen window – After a long winter, seeing these Sand Cherry blossoms out the kitchen window sure brightens up the spirit and sets the scene for the joys of summer ahead. It is a pure visual joy for me everyday when its blossom season.

Hopkins SUP

Hopkins SUP – That is my wife’s uncle paddling in front of where they live at Hopkins on the Sunshine Coast. It’s a family gem passed on through the generations. The area has very peaceful qualities and with scenes like this, it is easy to understand why. For me this photograph is the closest I have taken depicting BC life through my filters.

Chad's slides

Chad’s slides – Slide film photography is borderline a lost art. In a sense it’s ‘true’ photography, but I am sure that will ruffle the feathers of many professional photographers these days shooting digital. A dear friend Chad has shot film for just about his whole life and continues to bang off roll after roll upon his travels. When we get a chance, we brew up the tea and he gets his table out. For me there is nothing like it; turn that table on, lay the slides out and I get transported to a different realm of experiencing a still point of existence. The colour and depth in a slide you just do not see (or feel) on a screen. And to get something tack sharp with perfect exposure takes years of dedication. Thank you Chad for sharing your soulful stories with me, mate.


Fires – How fickle it all can be. One spark or lightning strike, and so much, so suddenly, so changes. And to think that there are cities on this planet that have this as common air quality. Being in that smog for the week or so was other worldly.

Birkenhead boulder

Birkenhead boulder – A friend gave me word of a newly cleaned boulder along the birkenhead river. A little gem Mike from Darcy cleaned up. Bouldering captivates me. There is a rock, that has its own million year history, and there is me, trying to find different movements on it, from one point of connection to another. Methodical. Then i leave and it stands doing its thing for the next million years.

Belay at Lillooet Edge

Belay at Lillooet Edge – I was hanging at the anchors taking photos of a dear friend climbing and was humbled at the beautiful part of the world we live in. When my friend got to the anchors, we just looked around, and then at each other and smiled at our fortune in this being our backyard. Stunning view up there of Lillooet Lake and surrounding mountains,

Bill's Helmet

Bill’s helmet – This is my father-in-law’s helmet. He was a couple of shifts from retiring as a captain firefighter in West Vancouver when he invited family to the station for a dinner he made. Kind of a send off dinner between family and the other boys on shift with him. Lots of humbling stories and emotional memories re-lived. I got to go for a ride in the truck in the captains front seat. SWEET! I looked at this helmet and felt a great deal of energy. What situations it has been in, seen and gotten out of. I quietly thanked the helmet for keeping Bill safe and snapped a photo.


Joffre – Hiking Joffre is not the same anymore with the new trail but the scene is still special. I like hiking up there when its misty or cloudy because the mood is so different to when it is sunny. Much more etheric. 5 seconds after this photo was taken, the mist passed by and the sun came out. Every-changing.


Mt. Weart – This was a special day for me. A solo hike/scramble was what the spirit was seeking. Some alone time every now and then i really need, and always have. With a bit of added exposure the mountains are more than happy to provide, its my sacred time. On a different note, it was the first photo stitch i attempted and was pleased with the final result, albeit a few mistakes learnt along the way.

Pemberton Sunsets

Pemberton sunsets – It blows my mind at how beautiful the sunsets, and sunrises, are in this valley. Really, they are just stunning.

Tae Chimney

Tae’s chimney – Seeing my son figure out by himself how to chimney up between two rocks for the first time was cool. Watching Tae’s process made me re-visit how I looked at and went about my climbing. There was no hindrance about how Tae moved, just feel and move. He did not stand there in front of the rocks for 10 minutes beforehand trying to decipher the moves or think if he could or could not do the crux; I don’t think the meaning of crux even exists in his mind yet. This also reminds me that yes I may be a parent now, but I am still a student. And my greatest teacher is the one society says I am meant to be teaching.



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