I used to dislike giving titles to photographs. Then, for reasons I’ve never bothered to try to understand, I began to enjoy giving titles to photographs. Sometimes the title means something; sometimes it’s just a word or phrase that makes an otter slide into my head and I slap it on the photo.
I did that this morning. I was getting ready to post a faux Polaroid in my traffic signal series and I needed a title. I called it Lodestone. No idea why. I wasn’t entirely certain I knew what a lodestone was—a primitive magnet of some sort used as a compass?
It turns out a lodestone is a naturally occurring magnetized mineral called (are you ready for this?) magnetite. But what’s really interesting is that lode is the original spelling of load, and in Middle English it meant a path or a course. Somewhere around the 16th century, miners began to speak of following a vein of ore through the rock—following the lode. They would then carry the lode (load) out, and eventually folks began to differentiate between lode and load.
Because magnetized stone would, if suspended, always point North, a lodestone was a stone that showed one the way.
I still don’t have any idea what that has to do with the photograph. But I learned something new. So there’s that.