…and the oppressive heat wave that is strangling the city continues for another day.
The only good thing about weather like this are the afternoon end of the world thunder storms we get. The sky gets this greyish black color, the wind starts to blow hard, and the temperature drops briefly.
And then boom. Fat drops fall from sky. Thunder booms through the air and the entire world lights up with a crash of lighting. The drops fall faster and faster until everything is covered in a solid curtain of rain. Some people run for cover, others dance in storm. In minutes though, it’s gone. The storm clouds move on, and the heat returns. The puddles that were formed only a little while ago on the concrete dry up and disappear. The trees and plants do all they can to hold the precious water they just harvested. Tiny drops sit on their leaves and petals. To a flower, it’s a matter of survival, this tiny drop of water provides what it needs to make food, to grow, and to make it until there’s another summer downpour.
So we took a trip up to the house to turn the water off for the winter. It was pretty damn cold and nasty, and honestly, I don’t want to know how much colder it could get. My readers know how me and the winter don’t get along.
Moose wanted company on the ride up, moral support as he calls it, and promised me exquisite autumn landscapes painted with the beautiful brushes of mother nature. He got the company, I got cold and rain.
We got to the house, did what he had to do, I’m still not sure what it was, but we poured antifreeze in the drains. The bottle promised that it would protect to -50 degrees, again, I don’t want to know how cold it gets up there.
I walked around the house and property as Moose poured the fruit punch looking stuff down the drains and took shots of the wet trees just starting to turn. Everything around me seemed to be in a weird place, balancing on the edge of summer and fall. The cold rain wasn’t heavy, just annoying. We wrapped up what we came to do, locked up and headed down the bumpy road that lead back to civilization.
“There’s a waterfall not far off the road. You wanna stop?” Moose asked. I looked out at the drizzly day and thought about it. “No.” I finally responded. “But you know what? We passed a cemetery on the way in. Can we pull over there? I know everyone thinks I have a sick thing for cemeteries, but there was tree in it that really gave the place some character.”
“Sure.” Moose responded.
A few minutes later he stopped the car and I walked across the road to the Claryville Cemetery. The rain had stopped, but the sky was still overcast and gray. I walked up to the tree I saw as we passed, and took some shots. I wandered along the roads, lost in the world of framing, light and exposure. I was snapped out of the sound of Moose’s footsteps.
“You see the dates on these things?” He asked. “They’re pretty old. 1825. 1850. 1840. 1874. They have been here a long time.” I began to notice the dates and he was right. These stones had seen many autumns underneath this big old tree. Moose and I walked around, and then headed back to the car.
“Thanks for stopping.” I said as I took a photo of the old church on the edge of the graveyard.
“No problem, kid.” Moose responded. “Hey, look at the tree in the middle of it. It’s perfect, I mean, how could we not stop?”
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
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.
The worst part of autumn is rain.
Autumn rain brings wind, and wind rips the leaves from the trees, stripping away the rainbow cloaks they get to wear for a brief time. The streets of New York City become carpeted in fallen leaves, now soaked and heavy with water. Shortly after the rain stops, doors open and out from the warmth and comfort of their homes come people prepared for battle, armed with rakes and shovels. They quickly begin their work of clearing away the wet mess left strewn across the sidewalks and lawns, stuffing wet colorful piles of leaves into black garbage bags. The bags get tied up and placed at the curb where they’re thrown into the backs garbage trucks and promptly disappear.
And then fall is over.
The weather gets colder. The friendly nip of the wind develops into a vicious icy bite. The once magnificent trees are now nothing more than bare skeletons. Night falls earlier, and it always seems to be dark and cold.
Christmas comes quickly, and for a brief time the winter is almost lifted by the twinkling colorful lights hanging in windows. The cold is almost chased away by the warmth of the holiday spirit. Before you know it though, the holidays are over, and New York City shivers through a few more months of winter.
I hate winter. I hate the cold. I hate autumn rain because I know winter is right around the bend.
So despite my dislike of the current situation and my tendency to worry about the future, I decided to walk out my front door and see what I could see. What I found is that the rain had stopped momentarily and the wind was gently blowing through the trees. I strolled down the colorful blocks of Queens as leaves slowly fell from their lives on the branches to their death on the sidewalk. I felt as if Mother Nature herself was throwing me a ticker tape parade.
It was beautiful. For an afternoon I didn’t think of the winter ahead, I just enjoyed the autumn rain like I had never enjoyed it before.