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Here is my gem of the day — a photo I took while hiking in the woods on Cape Cod. Its Wolf moss, or Lutharia Vulpina its poisonous I believe. (Its actually a lichen not a moss) It was used to poison wolves years ago. Intimate glimpses into the forest floor yield endless beauty; it pays to look.
To order a print of this image please go here:
I was waiting for my father-in-law to have his Doctor’s visit at Lutheran Hospital in Sunset Park Brooklyn. So as usual I walked around the neighborhood. The sky had been threatening all day and now clouds of enormous proportions came together. I walked out on the Sanitation Department’s pier on a public street but past many no trespassing signs and got out to the chain link fence closing off the pier. Only had my iPhone — forgot to bring a real camera. Note to self — iPhone is great but sometimes you need a real one. I stuck to lens of the phone between the links and got a few decent shots. The sky deserved a better photographer and camera but I am happy with my results — considering.
I think my online friends Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson were out in the water heading from Manhattan to Coney Island the same day. They recorded some really great images from their kayaks — posted here in their wonderful blog — Wind Against Current.
Later that day there was a double rainbow back at my in-laws home in Gravesend —
It was a great day for photography and I’m glad I didn’t miss it entirely. Next time I hope to have both my iPhone and a real camera. Or at least an iPhone 4s upgrade!
To see these images in my online gallery please go here and look in the Brooklyn gallery.
People (John Hanson Mitchell for one) have walked to Walden. Today we walked around Walden, as millions of others have done. The spirit of Henry David Thoreau was palpable as always. Because of his life and his writings this insignificant pond is one of the world’s famous bodies of water. Amazing! He wrote:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
To live deliberately means to be aware of one’s life each minute, every day I think. Are you? Am I? Probably not but its an idea worth remembering and striving for. Henry started the movement to save the planet when it was not obvious that it was in danger — “In wildness is preservation of the world.” What a concept — one we need more than ever now.
Here is some of what we saw today:
Better late than never!
This harbinger of Spring usually arrives in late winter. The photo above was taken near Snake Meadow Brook in Westford Massachusetts just the other day — April 2nd. Its a nice Skunk Cabbage one — they do make nice photos when they are sprouts!
The Gravesend section of Brooklyn is one of the New York gateways for people immigrating to the US. A hundred years ago or so Italian immigrants started arriving. Some of their descendants are still there but now there are also people from Russian, Serbia and Montenegro, China, Korea and lots of other places. Lots of young people who all seem twice as tall as their parents as well.
I visit family there often and usually take a couple of long walks with my camera, never knowing what I’ll catch.
There are signs of all kinds in city neighborhoods. Ads. Some a 50 or more years old, some are in the languages of newcomers, some are enigmatic. Here is one I love — I hope it stays enigmatic indefinately:
The elevated railroad that runs through the neighborhood is very photogenic — do you agree:
Here is another shot with a traveler arriving — probably from ‘the city’ (Manhattan that is).
The infrastructure in Brooklyn has been neglected just as the double parkers and illegall u-turners are, so maybe being ignored isn’t all bad for everybody. The old stations are really old. Timeless, I think. Many a crumbling. This one reminds me of an adobe outpost somewhere in what once was Indian country.
I have a lot more to share from my Brooklyn walks and other sources of inspiration, but I think I’ll stop for now and publish this. I haven’t written anything here in months and I really want to get back to actually publishing blog entries. I love the feedback I get once in a while and the writing process is very helpful to me. So consider this a dry run and look for more to come in the next few days. Its my New Year’s Resolution!
Update: I joined Fine Art America website recently and they have many Brooklyn image (some are mine of course!) here is a link to some of them:
Winter cold seduces. If you fall on the ice you go down in cold onto cold. The texture of everything is cold. I walked down to the lake yesterday. Put things on my boots to prevent falling. Took camera. Heavy coat, scarf, gloves.
No dog, though.
Lad died last September. Seems like a hole in my life now. I haven’t written about him because it is hard to do. He was my friend and companion for 15 years. Especially on walks.
In the cold Lad would sometimes complain because of ice in between his toes. Too cold. We’d go back early. In the last couple of years he didn’t want to walk very far, but he always wanted to walk. Even if he would turn around in ten minutes he was excited at the start.
Lad was 15 years and 3 months old when he died. He never gave us any problems and wasn’t very sick until the weekend before the monday when he dies at home in his bed. Just had trouble breathing for a while and then passed away.
Now I walk without my dog. Thing is when we got him it was for Maria but also to help me get out for exercise more often. For most of his life he did a good job helping me and loving Maria. He was gentle and smart. Sensitive and aware of what his humans were up to. He wanted to understand and usually it seemed he did.
He hated to be put in the kennel. So when we got the Colby Pet Service to come and take care of him in our home, he seemed to know immediately that this time when we left him it would be different. He didn’t try to come with us in the car that first time, but just waited for Dave to come and take care of him. Dave had visited once to meet him and see our home. So when we left instead of complaining and trying to come with us he just sat in the chair that was his and waited. When Dave got there he said later that it was almost as if Lad expected him. I’m certain that he knew what was up and did expect Dave to come around to see him.
Here is one of my favorite photos of Lad. He is scruffy because we are out in conservation land and he has gotten into some mud, but I love the inquisitive look as if to say — so, are you coming? Where we going next?
Lad and I had different interests in the woods. He couldn’t see the landscape, I couldn’t smell the forest floor as he did. But together we covered it all pretty well. Of course if there was a coyote or turkey nearby he would notice way before me.
Now when I go into the woods I feel as if I’m half a person. Getting another dog may be what we do later, Now its too soon and we need the extra space so to speak. We still may change houses in the next couple of years (but it seems unlikely in this market) and getting a new dog integrated and up and running will take time and energy. So for now — no dog.
But I don’t know if I can stand it.
A bridge tower complete with the wrapped wire cables invented by John Roebling
Hart Crane wrote the best tribute to the world’s greatest bridge that I know of:
To Brooklyn Bridge
How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty–
Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
–Till elevators drop us from our day . . .
I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;
And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,–
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!
Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.
Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.
And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.
O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,–
Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path–condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.
Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City’s fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .
O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.
I read somewhere years ago that Crane wrote this while living, unbeknownst to Hart, in the same apartment wherein Washington Roebling, chief bridge engineer and son of John, the designer of the bridge, lived out his final, painful days suffering from the bends that struck him while he dived under water to check pilings progress. Suffering there he watched the crew continue work on what was becoming the largest suspension bridge in the world and the tallest structure in New York at that time. Finally Washington Roebling watched as Grover Cleveland, Chester Arthur and many of the Citizens of New York opened the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge opened in 1883.
Washington’s father, John died from tetanus in 1869, two years after starting work on the bridge, after sustaining an injury that crushed his toes on one foot.
Last weekend I walked across the bridge and back with my daughter Robin. She was visiting Brooklyn to accompany her boy friend to a crossword puzzle conference and had some time to spend with me. It was a pleasure to be with her — so bright and smart, beautiful and uplifting — like the day we shared.
We had a wonderful day. In fact my weekend was one to remember. Friday I took the train to Manhattan and then the subway to Brooklyn. I felt capable and proud to navigate Penn Station at 6 pm on a Friday – my old New York instincts kicked in and I had a good trip reading on the train and people watching the whole time (an old hobby).
On Friday evening, after checking into the Comfort In Brooklyn Bridge (it actually in South Brooklyn) I took a cab to the Williamsburg section and had dinner at the Like the Spice gallery – Marisa Sage’s fine art gallery, appropriately located on Roebling street. (http://likethespice.com/) I met some great folks there and enjoyed a wonderful meal catered by Scottadito Osteria Toscana, an Italian restaurant in Park Slope on Union Street, described as ‘rustic, traditional Italian.’ Can’t say anything about the atmosphere, but the food on Friday was superb – fresh, natural without that over spiced restaurant taste and after taste (they use natural and organic ingredients when ever possible).
The two artists currently featured at the gallery spoke: Rachel Beach and Nora Hertling. Both were elegant and articulate describing their excellent and intriguing work without pretense in a way that I found engrossing. I learned something about the aesthetics for a fine artist. The work is so particular — its about a small detail in life — not big questions or observations but small ones honed to perfection. Lovely people and lovely pieces!
The hospitality provided by Marisa, her father (who was a delight to talk to) and the other guests put me at ease and provided the cushion needed for a most fine evening!
But spending the day with Robin was the real highlight of the weekend. We took in the promenade in Brooklyn Heights overlooking downtown Manhattan and the bridge. We visited The River Café (one of the best) and Robin made reservations for Sunday night (don’t know if she had dinner there – a jacket is required Sunday evenings and Jim did not have one with – question was – Macy’s or no).
The Woolworth Building from the promenade
Next we started across the bridge. Now the weather forecast was for snow and or rain. So we thought the Brooklyn Museum would be a better bet. But once we started out it was clear that it was clear – and bright, sunny with a gusty wind that ‘made our hearts a dancer.’
The Empire State Building from the Brooklyn Bridge
Wedding couple, colorful photographer, cyclists sweeping over, crews of friends photographing each other, gulls winging and the city stretched out before us and all the while the bridge reminded us that New York is a fine old city ans seaport (being on the bridge is like being on a sailing ship).
Some folks enjoying the bridge as we passed by (no that’s not Robin)
On the promenade we were reminded of 9/11 and the missing towers. But the bridge beckoned with promises that what made New York and Brooklyn special was still alive. The bridge, the Woolworth Building and the entire sweeping vista represented a New York in its heyday so our hearts were uplifted.
Somehow this was like a homecoming for me. To be with a beloved daughter in the city of my birth (was born in Brooklyn Heights in 1943) on a beautiful pre-spring day did make my heart a dancer. It’s a weekend I’ll long remember.
Thank you daughter. Thank you bridge. May you both enjoy many years of life and love.
(Then on Sunday, Aurora and I joined the First Parish Church of Westford Massachusetts in a ceremony that touched us both. This was a bridge crossing of another kind, one that I will write about later on, making the weekend one of trips and crossings from start to finish. For me this joining includes become a Unitarian or at least moving in that direction. I don’t know exactly where this will lead but the trip so far has been a delight…..(many thanks to Reverend Cindy and all the new friends we have made at First Parish Church United.)