These days following the winter feasts bring a quiet with them, not necessarily unwelcome. Often grey and a little lonely, or too-quiet for some, yet there is a gentleness to them that eases the emotional tumult forced by the calendar shift into a new year.
When I was younger, I longed for the new year to turn at Springtide, or during the full heat of Summer. As I’ve got older, the shift has felt more accustomed and proper happening in the dead of winter— it allows a moment, at least, for reflection which those other times wouldn’t afford.
(I’ll own, this is clearly the result of living one’s entire life in the northern hemisphere, in the west. Nurture and nature have their sway.)
Upstate at the Farm over the winter holiday is something I’d not trade. Cold, and snowy, I can see the sun and shade of summer in every angle— but those white cloaked fields are equal in my mind to their mild counterparts. Some of my best memories are of being alone in a quiet icicled clearing in the woods; or frigid rides along field paths as snow-blanketed as the horse’s backs, and my eyelashes— in awe of the change a bit of weather can make.
Sure, we get more irritable in the cabin-fever months. But also we get closer, cozier, if allowed. Weather does change things. It’s one of the things my cold-climate friends and I always joked about— nothing akin to Russian novels ever comes out of easy climates!
We complain, yet we can’t rightly imagine life without seasons. Or we try, and give it up for folly. Relegate easy to vacation times, to the fleeting (and also irritating but in different ways) Summer. It all balances out in ways we’ve grown accustomed to; in ways that make sense to us.
Anyway, I rather enjoy and look forward to the quiet spell after the hectic holiday time —before it turns into the doldrums— at which point I’ll want winter to go. There’s a period during which it’s welcome and agreeable; and productive, honestly.
Eventually, of course, the grey just becomes too much, and all we want is the return of green trees and sunshine. That’ll be hitting us around mid-February, I suspect, when the whole city has lost its luster; after the fairy-lights’ve been long taken down, and all the world just feels like it’s given up.
But, just as we reach our wit’s end, some modest glorious crocus will raise her chilly new petals from the snow, and give a beacon of spring, a bit of hope to see us through.
Here is my other treasure from the Antiquarian Book Fair (which was fairly well-stocked with so-called Ephemera, that I obv adore)— a stellar and skilled portrait, the likes of this level I’ve rarely seen in my years of collecting Cabinet Card pictures as they’re called when mounted and ‘framed’ on cards like this.
This is a true photographic portrait; staged and lighted with an astute level of skill for the age of early photographs. Lighting and composition are informed by both Dutch and Renaissance masters, that much is clear. Mother was surely holding her breath (as well as her babe) to allow for such a sharp portrait. I’d wager they may have been situated near a window with a cheesecloth or similar scrim to diffuse the available light. Beautifully executed. A+
My brother came to visit for a few days. We had an adventure-filled weekend, and I’m thankful for his visit, as I was when my older brother and his family were here earlier in the month. Not only to have spent time with them, but also because visitors ensure you get out and do things. Jon and I crammed a lot of summer into three days.
Above is the view of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island. Seen this way, it seems less an island than a mirage or some kind of magic allowing myriad structures to float upon the surface of the water.
Don’t think I haven’t longed for it; time without writing makes a ruin of me. A mere responder rather than a decided adventurer. Time— without time to think, to write— renders me a to-do list, at best. Ugh.
And I’ve been feeling a right failure of Summer, honestly, Having had not a single true beach day at the ocean; nor any long rides on my bike to farther-afield neighborhoods. It’s made me have some misgivings about this new job, despite that I rather love it.
It’s down to habit and expectations, I suppose. I spent a lotta’ years being a sole proprietor (my own damn boss), and as a result, have certain expectations of Summer, you know. Lots, in fact.
But what I’ve come to realize (again) is that everything’s a trade-off. I enjoyed many years of beaching mid-week; of cycling all round town whenever I chose. And now the focus has shifted. It’s good, and just what I needed, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
It was a choice, and one I don’t regret. And now, after a long weekend in B’more with one of my dearest friends, my brother and his family are going to be in Brooklyn this weekend. So you see, Summer happens after all 🙂 And it’s wonderful.
Closing note: I have so much more I intended to write about, but it’ll keep. Summer pushes certain things to the wayside.
(Autumn has other promises, where rain is appropriate and welcome.)
*We haven’t failed! It only feels like that sometimes, when pressures lead us to think in term of expectations. Personally, I’ve decided to say fuckall to prior patterns, and allow new ones to form. That’s adaptation 🙂
Observing and Listening have become almost superpowers in the contemporary world. Such pursuits are almost the opposite of (though are often mistaken for) ‘consuming’, because to truly see and/or hear takes as much patience and skill as any act of creation. They are the wells that feed creation. Processes —both of observation and research— culminate in the process of making, which is, always, one of translation.
. . .
The above was born of a comment left on another artist’s blog; I’ve adapted it to a more generalized sentiment, as I find it to be true.
Apologies for the longer stretches between posts, lately. I’m in need of a schedule to stay on track here, as I re-learn living, and balance with the full time gig/ I’d rather expected more time for writing while I was upstate, but lots of family goings-on took precedence. Happy Summer, and thanks for reading and looking!
Revisiting the April trip, zooming back to Berlin, in black and white. We begin here in RAW-Gelande, the graffiti-clad playground to artists and DJs, just over the river in East Berlin..
Feeling a little Brutal(ism) on this corner, but in person it was a rather lovely building. blue sky reflecting in all the glass.
A stunning, lyrical façade rendered prickly and sere in the fading light and surround of winter tree branches.This cathedral is a hollow shell; was bombed heavily, during WWII, but much of the exterior remains in what is now a park.
I’ll eave you with the ethereal image below— rivulets streaming down from the apex of Viktoria Park, which was neighbor to us for our days in Berlin.
On an Easter Monday back in early May, Z, J, and I went on a cycling wander with our friends in Amsterdam. Though it was chill and overcast, we had a fantastic day exploring Amsterdam Noord.
Two of our bikes on the deck of the ferry
A club called Sexyland in Amsterdam Noord
Edge of the beach outside at Pllek (pllek means Place in Dutch)
Entering the town of Nieuwendammerdijk
Bell gables hide steeply pitched roofs
Two weekends ago, I spent some days in a fantastic waterside lodge for a wedding in south Georgia. Above, a view of the little lake. Mossed-draped trees trace menacing silhouettes across the water. This was late at night, and the frogs were singing— an orchestra louder than the nighttime city.
The lake, seen Saturday afternoon, just before the storm descended, bringing winds, thunder, lightning, and wide curtains of rain. I sat on the wide porch under its corrugated metal roof during the whole storm, and enjoyed the display immensely.
Everywhere in the lodge were taxidermied deer and various other beasts, giving the feeling of a hunting lodge (despite being hired out primarily for weddings).
Montmartre— dans la lumière et l’obscurité
Now, you know, I’ve been dreaming of the trip— now that it’s over. As I did before it was born. Friday was two weeks since we left for farther shores. It went by fast and slow, as time does.
Felt like four days; felt like four weeks. Away –and three cities away– will have that effect.
Life is different —and the same— when you return. That is to say, life is the same but you’re a little different.