With the strong summer sun sneaking away into autumn, I grabbed Time Out magazine and flippd through it looking for something to do. As if the editors were aware of the situation, I found an article “Things To Do Before Summer Ends”. There on the list was a place I had heard about, but never been to, The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I grabbed Jenn McGowan, who grabbed her daughter & friend and off we went deep into the bowels of Brooklyn.
Ok, “deep in the bowels” isn’t that accurate, but it was in Brooklyn, nestled on the side of Prospect Park. It was the first trip there for all of us, and I was amazed how I had never been to this beautiful spot in my city. Jenn and I walked around clicking away as the girls tried to find the prettiest flower for her to shoot, and the ugliest for me. (Kept them busy, didn’t it?)
We wandered the manicured gardens, which were blooming in some spots, past bloom in others. We watched the turtles in the Japaneses pond bask in the sun, and would chuckle at the rare siren or car horn in the distance. For awhile we felt we were as far from downtown Brooklyn as one could get, strolling along in a floral paradise.
The lily pads in the reflecting pools were brimming with dragonflys which danced from flower to flower. The girls raided the gift shops, and even I got a “starving artist” pin. We walked through the greenhouses, each dedicated to “dessert”, “rainforest” and “temperate”.
I’ve commented in the past that I often view taking of flowers are boring, and my mind hasn’t changed. However, no one could ever deny the absolute beauty of a delicate flower. No one could ever not be amazed at the unique detail that gets poured by mother earth into every single petal on every single flower that blooms.
We left the gardens amazed at the beauty we had just witnessed, and I was happy I found another treasure of New York City.
For my friends. I have no words. Just know I am with you during this time.
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge – myth is more potent than history – dreams are more powerful than facts – hope always triumphs over experience – laughter is the cure for grief – love is stronger than death” – Robert Fulghum
… Goes one of my favorite Max Creek songs… and it’s the first thing I thought of when my hand went into the coffee can this afternoon.
For those who don’t know about the coffee can – or forgot about it, like I tried to – it’s a little game I’ve created for myself. A while back I wrote a gagillion words on tiny slips of paper and stuffed them into a coffee can, which I promised myself that I’d raid the can every few days and shoot whatever the paper said. Like most promises I break, I followed for awhile, but then tapered off, hoping no one would notice. Great idea, except for this one bone head friend who brings it up to me every time we see each other. (Thanks Chuck. Now you know why I never invite you to afternoon tea anymore.)
So this afternoon, before I brought the boys home to their mom for mother’s day, the can caught my eye and opened it.
What? Colors? I hate these words. Who the hell thought of them?
So I went about my day with the word tucked back in the dark recesses of my mind. As I walked through Home Depot – I promised my mom I’d fix some stuff around the house today – I pretended I was bouncing around ideas, but it really more like tossing a rubber ball against a wall in an empty room. As the hollow echo of the ball bouncing from floor to ceiling ran through my skull, I passed the paint aisle and all it’s samples laid out, and I walked right past them.
Colors… what a sucky word.
it wasn’t until after the chores, after diner, after I had pretty much given up for the day that I saw the flowers sitting on my dining room table. I really am an idiot sometimes.
I grabbed them, and found my colors. Colors more beautiful than any can from Home Depot could ever make.
And yes Chuck, I’ll try to get another word real soon…
Spring is our yearly second chance.
We die through the winter, everything becomes cold and bleak, and even a fresh white blanket of snow eventually turns to a ugly gray eyesore piled up on the curbs of New York City. The wind chills you through to the bones, and I at least, make my way through the streets muttering “There is no reason for weather like this…” and usually a profanity or two.
But soon, the winds die down, the sun peaks from behind the clouds a little longer each day, and you’re not so pissed that you forgot your gloves at home. Winter has left us, and spring has arrived.
Every year around this time I watch the ground. Yes, contrary to what some people think, there are actually patches of ground here in New York City. I’ve always had a piece of it right outside my back door, well, my parent’s back door. Its a small section of property that we here in Queens call “The Yard”. My parents have always taken pride in their yard, it’s a mix of a quiet place to eat BBQ – or actually any meal cooked in this household between June and September when it’s not raining – and a small slice of nature that my parents tend to, consisting of a few flowers, some tomatoes plants and lots of ivy. There’s also a cherry tree that my brother Mike somehow picked up, I don’t remember the story, and remnants of the old magnolia tree that I spent countless hours playing on in my youth.
In my mind, it’s the most beautiful yard in the world.
It’s also the yard that I’ve watched the winters of my life fade away, and the springs sneak in before the summer heat.
What a perfect place to go with my new camera, right? Only one catch, of course, I hate taking pictures of flowers.
I told this once to someone I love once. They bore me, I said, not moving, giving you all the time in the world to frame it, switch lenses, get closer, work on that really nice shot. She said to me, that I should look at it as a thing all photographers need to do, and every really good shot of a flower as one step closer to never having to take a photo of a flower again.
So hopefully these will get me closer to that goal. And if not, I’m not too worried, because no matter how hot the summer gets, and how cold and nasty the winter winds blow, I know all I have to do is wait for spring to return home, and I’ll get another chance.
Only one single thought went through my mind in the few milliseconds that I was airborne.
Protect the camera.
In the past two weeks, I’ve seen two fellow photographers Brody Grant and Sue Henry endure the anguish of a broken camera. Thankfully, both of them survived, and they lived to shoot another day. As gravity sucked me down I freaked that I would suffer the same fate. Acting on instinct alone, I tucked my camera into my chest and rolled so my back stuck the ground first.
It worked, and as I lay on the patch of cold wet ice that caused me to fall in the first place, I held up my camera to make sure. As I did, I felt the consequences of my great defense maneuver, and a pain ripped through my back. Thankfully the pack on my back took most of the force, but I still kinda hurt. Ahh well, no pain no gain, right?
I got myself back up and navigated safely towards the steps that I was heading to. I took some photos and continued on my way.
The “Blizzard of ’09” that the weatherman predicted was pretty much a dud, but there was a fine covering of snow and ice over much of Queens. I headed to where I knew the snow and ice would be most untouched by shovels and rock salt, a cemetery. Apparently I was the only one with this thought, because I found a quiet and peace I hadn’t really seen before. The air was crisp and it blew through the leaf-less trees. On the ground were tracks of cats and either a few rabbits, or one amazing active one. Almost every where I walked, my footprints were the only human ones left behind. I raised my camera, trying to capture the stillness, but knew that no matter how good the shots were, they would never be able to capture the tranquility I was feeling.
I continued on until the pain in my back and the numbness of my fingers drove me indoors.
The night before I was sitting with an old friend, a person I have undying respect for, but unfortunately I haven’t seen a lot of in recent years. I showed him the “2008 yearbook” of my work. When he was finished he handed it back to me and said “Ptchfork, you’ve really found that thing you’re meant to do it life and I’m proud of you brother.” His words went right to my heart, and thought about them as I warmed up with a cup of hot cocoa and processed the photos I took. I’m pleased with the outcome and I don’t know if was his words, the beauty of my surroundings or my crash on the ice, but I feel like I might have busted through the funk I’m in.
Time will tell though… we’ll see when I post again.