Pool of Possibilities E-Calendar

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Over the course of a decade, Courtney Milne created about 45,000 images of his swimming pool in Grandora, Saskatchewan. As his partner Sherrill Miller wrote, Courtney "was constantly amazed that he could go out every day and find something new. It was compelling, entrancing, all encompassing and enchanting, and he so much wanted to share this experience, as an example of how others might see their worlds in different ways – 'with new eyes'."

The Pool of Possibilities e-calendar was produced in 2007: an online daily e-calendar of 365 different images accompanied by Courtney’s comments, called Poolside Wisdom. "Courtney gave each day a name reflecting the interaction between nature and human nature. Then Courtney rearranged the Julian calendar, naming his months for the rhythms of nature and the planetary forces that impact us." We are pleased to be able to continue to make the e-calendar available on the University Library's Courtney Milne site.

The Pool Project also led to an exhibition at the Mendel Art Gallery in 2011. The images prepared for the Mendel show are among those suitable for gallery quality printing, and available for purchase.

Inside the E-Calendar

If you subscribe to the e-calendar, every day you will receive:

  • A new image of the pool
  • A unique title for each day - inspired by the rhythms of nature
  • Courtney's "Poolside Wisdom" - the story behind the photo

You can easily unsubscribe, or set a temporary vacation from the daily e-mail.

The e-calendar was created as a perpetual calendar - you can start it anytime of the year - and if you sign up for the daily e-mail reminder, you will experience it as Courtney designed it, each day building on the one before as the seasons progress, sometimes with subtle changes, other times with dramatic differences. It was these constant changes that led Courtney to name it the Pool of Possibilities. If you continue your subscription more than one year, you may be surprised at your responses the second time around, as new circumstances in your life affect your view of the world.

You can also browse the full calendar without subscribing to the e-mail.

Courtney Milne recounts the story of the "Pool Project":

He searched the world over and what did he find?
That Earth's greatest treasure is the eye of the mind.
For when he came home, as wise as a Fool,
He found the whole world right there in his pool.

My discovery of the Pool of Possibilities was as big for me as Hiram Bingham must have felt as he first explored Machu Picchu in Peru or when Jimmy Angel piloted his small plane over Angel Falls, Venezuela, the highest waterfall in the world. In twenty-five years of world travels, I have witnessed and photographed both these places. As grand and exciting as they were, each in its own right, they did not stir my heart or take me to the depths of my soul in the same way as the Pool does. Here's how it all began:

The Resolve

On the autumn equinox of 1999 (September 23rd) I calculated that there were exactly 100 days remaining in the Millennium. I vowed that I would do something significant with my camera everyday.

The Task

Finding a block of time with my camera soon became a daunting task. I was in the midst of a cross-Canada promotional tour for my new book W. O. Mitchell Country. The busiest days of all seemed to be when I was home preparing for the next leg of the journey.

Late afternoons, as the September light gently waned and October light was rapidly shrinking, I would dart outside to photograph whatever caught my eye. On four or five occasions, the first thing I noticed was the pattern of reflections in the forty-foot swimming pool, right outside our patio door. When the water turned to solid ice, I often found myself focusing on the shapes created by the play of morning light on its ridges.

I thought little of all this at the time and was happy to return to what I perceived to be my "real" work: preparing for the next trip and multi-media show.

The Epiphany

In February 2000, with a more relaxed daily schedule, I reviewed the nearly 7500 slides I had acquired for the Hundred-Day Project. In choosing my top ten images, I was shocked to realize that they were all of the swimming pool!

My backyard had won over national treasures such as Algonquin Park, the Canadian Rockies, the Pacific Coast, Vancouver Island and Niagara Falls! This epiphany led to some soul-searching questions. If a few minutes with the pool over several days could result in this body of work, what else was I missing - in the pool, in my photography, in my career, in my relationships and in my life?

Thus began years observing, contemplating, photographing and learning from my pool - my inspiration, my teacher, my Muse.

Read more:

View the Pool of Possibilities E-Calendar: January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December
Subscribe to the Pool of Possibilities E-Calendar