In Search of Lost Time | no regrets

А la recherche du temps perdu

When I saw how the new sun shone,
I opened all the morning to her.

When I felt the heat of midday,
I turned my face to feel her warmth.

When her exit cast a wake of diamonds on the sea,
I sailed in pursuit ’til they sank out of view.

When the moon ascended,
I traced a sympathetic arc across wide fields.

And when at length a velvet dark surrounded,
I sat alone,
and counted every star.



Advertisements

The calm monochrome that follows the feast days

an abandoned sidewalk xmas tree— set out to the street before xmas fully dressed (b&w photo)

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.

the giant pine in the yard upstate, blocking snowfall on the yard liek an umbrella (b&w photo)

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.

Several pine trees upstate in snowfall (b&w photo)

(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!

the house at the Farm, blanketed in easy snow (b&w photo)

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.

telephone pole and wires in snow (b&w photo)

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.

And just like that: Autumn

Brooklyn Bridger seen from DUMBO in the rainIt arrived with that kind of grey rain that settles in for a few days, so you just have to settle with it.

I was out all day Sunday and into the night; eight miles of walking in the rain, and when I got home the apartment was clammy like when it rains at a beach house during vacation and steals away some of the fun. 

I had to put on pajamas for sleeping. The beginnings of Fall.
A little park in the ruins in DUMBO
A little park in the ruins in DUMBO
A street lined with an arched tunnel of Locust trees in Greenpoint

Summer hid a whetstone in the slender paths between cornstalks

Seneca, the paint quarterhorse
My brother and Seneca in the ring while I was up at the Farm in July.


Summer
! It’s been too hot. It’s rained a lot. It’s been busy with work, and (half Fridays notwithstanding) I’ve still not gone on a date with the Atlantic Ocean. Haven’t cycled as much as I’d like.

But it’s been good, after its own fashion; taking its own shape. Clarity and focus with my work has (mostly) made up for my extreme lack of drawing and writing. Solid, meaningful visits to and from family and friends have shored up scattered edges.

What it all has in common: that fleeting quality that I will ever associate with Summer. Happily, the meaning lasts, even if the sunshine doesn’t.

And life without meaning is little more than a series of actions or motions.

drawing of a wall needing art, w measurements
My mathy diagram of K’s wall, before we hung all the art!

Just over a week ago there was an unprecedented electrical storm —very local to my apartment. To the extent that my building was hit and I lost a few small appliances; modem, router, speaker, and the aquarium pump. What a nuisance. Amazon: order replacements. Brazenly, decadently easy to deal with such a blow in these times. Nearly everything was back to rights by the weekend.

The electrical storm seems to’ve been a metaphor for things at large. I wasn’t even upset at having to drop over $200 at the damage that ensued; indeed, it felt like a doorway. An entrance stone had opened, to quote Murakami. I took it as a sign. Old things, old equipment, can be let go of easily with the help of a catalyst. Particularly when it suits the story.

Just last year, my printer died, apropos of nothing. I was irritated, irate at first, but at length it dawned on me that the thing was 11 years old. Then I felt grateful it had endured so long. (Few have such a resumé these days.) I practically well-wished it as I left it on the doorstep of the electronics recycling center a month later. A solemn good-bye, with a wink: So long and thanks for all the fish!

I digress.

drawing of electrical wires
A drawing of the occasional above-ground wires of New York City

This summer has been the most disruptive I’ve had in a long time, and probably—definitely— overdue. I’m good with it, have found a way to be settled with it, despite not having had my sand and salt respites at the edge of the world; despite not having spent (yet*) enough time with friends in our erstwhile carefree summer ways. It’s a new chapter, demanding of change.

At Springtide I sensed it, (sortof) accepted it— was fine to wait for Summer. But it’s different now, and it’s on account of so many factors I cannot list or name them all.

I’m still absorbing, but for the first time in a long time I’m not afraid of Autumn. I’ve even taken to listening to the Shipping Forecast as a soothing interlude, a doorway to focus, or just to sleep— a horoscope of rain and barometrics, always rising more slowly.

Photo of the pagoda in Patterson Park, Baltimore
The pagoda at Patterson Park in Baltimore, when I visited K

*ever the optimist!

how things move altogether too quickly and smoothly once a pattern is imposed

linear drawing of a suburb, view'd from above

Above: sketch of a suburb— viewed from the spire, as it were. A suburb represents, to me, a place that lacks the most wonderful parts of both cities and wide open spaces*; A pattern imposed; a restrictive one— made to serve its developer’s purpose rather than its inhabitants. Sometimes, life feels that way, no?

(how things move altogether too quickly and smoothly once a pattern is imposed)

 

It‘s what patterns are for.

It’s both good and bad; comforting and regrettable. Like choosing to stay in and get a good sleep when it’s a big wondrous and scary blizzard out. You know what I mean; one feels torn, a bit. Yet resolved. It‘s life— that feeling of contradiction that somehow fits because we‘ve been socialized and trained to accept that it fits.

Days, weeks simultaneously dragging and speeding by. It‘s the unquantifiable aspect of time that math-science is less equipped to deal with than psychology-science. Viz. feelings and other ephemera more in the realm of the social sciences, aka art literature poetry philosophy— the realms comprising questions and not so many answers (yet every answer, too)†.

Math-science satisfies the Libra in me (picked up perhaps from proximity to my balanced Libra** brothers). The designer in me thrives on the practicality of measurement; of the quantifiable. The artist (Scorpio) in me prefers to live the questions, as Rilke put it.

Continue reading “how things move altogether too quickly and smoothly once a pattern is imposed”

Jolly sketches of karaoke time at the diner

drawing of someone singing karakeSpent some time in Red Hook over the weekend; went to say goodbye to that institution of a watering hole Bait & Tackle, followed by a visit into Sunny’s (where yesterday’s photos originated), and finally dinner and some time with friends who sing at Hope & Anchor, also soon to be no more.

This is a city that changes constantly, it’s true. But there’s something altogether too fast about it when three places at the heart of a small community like the Hook all disappear in short order (the third will be Ice House; not sure when). It’s going to irrevocably change the fabric of that area, and for the worse, I’ve no doubts. Especially judging from the new bits of residential real estate that’ve been popping up.

Development, left unchecked, will be the undoing of any kind of character or authentic qualities this town has left.

ink drawing of someone singing karaoke

Color shift, mood shift

10-14-16_arm-study
(a do-dad from the sketchbook)

The wind in the trees at night in October sounds like all the silent wishes of dreams, rushing to be first in line.

Autumn feels like putting a lid on a box of memories, packing away warm weather clothes in trade for sweaters and scarves. It has a newness in its own right, too, but only first by closing the chapter that was Summer. It carries an early morning mist and a nascent darkness.

The seasonal shift invites nostalgia, but more than that— invites a curiosity of the new year, always arriving both too quickly and too late, or in a slumber state wherein one can’t rightly grasp it.
mthope_yellowSome of my favorite parts of pumpkin season: the jeweled glow of early evening windows as I walk past row houses and brownstones; sidewalks and steps carpeted in bright-gold leaves; Japanese maples in full, rich blood tones.

Short-lived slices of beauty that tease and tense before the long grey of winter in the city. Always I feel a love-hate at this transition.
jewel_windows

 

 

September

A painting of autumn
(a painting of autumn I did in 2005)

Waning of summer month, end of beach weather month.
Back to work and back to school month.

Memory— no
A pattern, died in the wool.

Buckled-up books, backpacks, cardigans.
Skirts and stockings and
closed-up shoes that suddenly
feel too tight.

Early rising, hasty breakfasting—
Tie your shoes and
Don’t forget your lunch and
The bus is here!

Always I was running out the door, coat unzipped

Not ready (probably willfully so)
A stubborn child in the face of early mornings (i still am)

Autumn is pretty—
but it’s short-lived, and always
it carries blueprints of dark and winter.

I mourn the passing of beach days and long light
Sand in the pages of your book, and everywhere.
Sunstroke tiredness after days in the crashing waves.

Fleeting things,
like childhood itself.

Snufkin will break camp soon—
It’s cooled,
and the rain is coming.

(a design I did for a screen print from 2005)
(a design I did for a screen print from 2005)

Lengthening shadows of late summer

Photos from my excursion to Rehoboth Beach, DE, last month

Each successive month of summer leaves us in its wake faster than the previous— longing for 9:30 sunsets, never quite knowing what time it is for the wanton excess of sunlight.

This summer has held some challenges and sad moments, a couple more of which I learned about on Sunday. 2016 has been an unstable year, and  persistently so.

Last week my horoscope ended with this:

Expect a breakthrough that initially resembles a breakdown.

To which my internal response is “expect nothing,” and then I’m reminded of this perennial bit of wisdom from Oil Notes, by Rick Bass:

Luck is a residual of preparation.

002 004
003

Post Script— In hindsight this post reads a little sad, but it’s not sad, it’s only honest. This year has certainly held more than just challenges and sad bits— but all the bits are necessary.

Cardinal directions

2016-04-16 17.51.46Sometimes I feel as though I’m steering a ship with no map, no stars to navigate by, and the most frustrating thing is that there’s no way to even ask for a map, for stars. You’re just there, adrift in the darkness, hoping that the next piece of intel will crack some code, provide you with a Rosetta stone.

More likely, though, you will only feel more lost. Sometimes your internal compass is all you’ve got.