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

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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!

Montmartre— in light and dark

Montmartre— dans la lumière et l’obscurité

Sacre Coeur blackand white photo angle from belowThese are photos from our first afternoon in Paris. It stayed light til 8:30.

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.

streets of Montmartre, photos in black and white
streets of Montmartre, photos in black and whitestreets of Montmartre, photos in black and white

Life is different —and the same— when you return. That is to say, life is the same but you’re a little different.

streets of Montmartre, photos in black and whitestreets of Montmartre, photos in black and white

Continue reading “Montmartre— in light and dark”

Winter itself is exhausted; kicks and screams against its scheduled retreat nonetheless

ink drawing of a sick thing on the rocks

I think the original title of this was A sick thing upon the rocks in the very early morning. It’s from when I was a teenager in college. (I think the sketch that precipitated this ink drawing originated during an acid trip; that coming down feeling—)

As I see it now, looking through the archive, it looks to me like a personification of the tail end of winter. Fighting in vain against the sun; unwilling to exit stage left; refusing to retreat for its Persephone months—

Those during which she must return to where she’d been abducted. By absent-mindedly eating the pomegranate seeds proffered by Hades, she doomed herself to a third the year in the underworld, thereby depriving the surface of the world of green things growing during her absence.

That is Winter, which doesn’t like to take its leave quietly, gracefully.

.   .   .

(TBH, the way I wrote the title of this post reminds me of nothing so much as the GOP, but that’s a different sort of post altogether.)

Summer swords

In summer my fingernails
grow like weeds—
just grow and grow and there’s
no stopping them.
All that vitamin d; sunlight
so I have to clip, trim,
file. Sand down the edges
that snag on my shirt or a
neighboring nail.

They’re long now, but instead of
cutting, clipping, reigning in, I
have the urge to paint them.
The brightest color I can find.
I’ve no patience for that
occupation. Always I ruin
the lacquer, a fidgeting sitter,
and even when I don’t, the color
soon chips away. My hands
are tools; these nails are daggers,
diggers, makers.

But I chafe at practicality
in back-to-school season.
So I’ll color instead of clip
and wait for them to chip—
a reminder that nothing lasts
forever, not even lacquer, or
fingernails, and definitely
not summer.

Leave(s)

portion of a Calder sculpture

People disappear

Sometimes all of a sudden
without warning.
Sometimes gradually

like sunset on the longest day of the year,
or how long it takes some trees
to become naked
in the face
of
oncoming winter.

One way is like hitting a brick wall.
The other is more torturous.

An ongoing awareness
tracing the slow serpentines
through the empty air
and then the gentle, condescending
landing
on the dry sidewalk

of
each
brittle

leaf.

Then you
Brace for winter, and dream

of springtime.

 

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.

Late Spring

Coming through the window—
BBQ, coal fires, wood fires.
And in the sky’s dome,
the incandescent moon, waxing.

A reflection of infinity
can fit on the rim of a teacup.