Lately I've taken to walking at sunset. This recent habit started on the night that my mother-in-law died. Alone with my memories and sadness, the house and its four walls were closing in on me. Dusk, with its wondrous light, was right outside the door. It lured me out and then I walked. I've been walking at sunset ever since.
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Morning walks on the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore—something I experienced often in my youth—were always weird. The amusements and food concessions were meant to be experienced at night, or at the very least at dusk. Mornings on the boardwalk were akin to waking up on the on the living room couch on the morning after a party. Stale odors and bits of refuse mixed with the ambience of the misty, salt air. The rising sun revealed stragglers who seemed just a little lost. The fun was over. Morning’s clarity brought new light to the hangover of too much fun and spent adrenaline. Yes, morning walks on the New Jersey’s boardwalks were strange—but I loved them anyway.
Wild animals come into our lives for only brief moments. One must be deft at beholding them. A photographer must also be quiet and at the ready. Fiddling around with cameras and settings can mean lost opportunity. The whirring of autofocus and the thunderous thud of an SLR shutter can scare off humans in the wild, let alone other warm-blooded creatures
A red flash! I blinked, thinking it to be some kind of short circuit deep inside my retina. Another red flash! Was it an illusion? Or was there something in the brush ahead? I left the path and walked lightly among the dead reeds, trying not to make noise. Stealthiness was an impossible task. The dried, hollow sticks snapped easily under my weight. Flash! Flash! The red flash moved further yet away. It was toying with me.
The city, San Francisco or most any city, is full of small, fleeting treasures. Riches are everywhere—little vignettes of joy, intrigue, and ephemeral pleasure that compel me to click the shutter of my camera. Many are haphazard collections of life’s serendipity. Most affirm my belief that the cosmic powers that run this universe of ours have a very good sense of humor.
The well-worn path is like a college dorm room. Old wall posters become invisible after a couple of years, even the ugliest of them. So too do the homely sights along my daily walks. Telephone poles, street signs—even abandoned tires in the local flood canal—they all melt away with repeated sightings. Mostly this is a good thing. When I was in college, there were some truly butt-ugly posters around. Grateful Dead fans, you know what I mean. And along with that omnipresent Deadhead skull of my youth, my selective vision has made a few power transformers simply disappear from sight. The human mind is a wondrous thing.
Venice is a place of shifting perspective. Nothing is fixed about the place, nothing is permanent. It changes and transforms with the crossing of every bridge and the winding of every alley. Crystalline sunshine turns to pearly fog in a moment. Shadows sneak along, tides flow in and then out. Low water becomes high and then low and then high again. Deserted streets jam up with crowds then become deserted once again. Tensions build and then relax. Pay attention in Venice! Things will surely change within moments.
It was one of those deep sleeps that is rare for me these days. I awoke not quite knowing where I was. Moving my eyes from side to side, I sat up. The ambient noise of a Monday morning told me that the rest of the world was already doing its thing. That meant that I had to get up. Planting my feet upon the floor, my grogginess slowly gave way to a nagging, low-level grumpiness.
I've blogged about this tire before. The damned thing is hard to ignore. It sits in a flood-control canal near our home, submerged in brown muck. As if it were a piece of urban art, it changes with the time of day and the level of the tide. I'd like to think that the thoughtless person who tossed it there may have had art on his mind. But, this is unlikely. It is a hapless landmark made beautiful only by a fertile imagination. It is the Tire of Corte Madera.
I rose early, as always, for my dawn walk in Venice. This was my time alone with the city, a time when I could inhale deeply the salty air, and search out the meager bits of golden light that might be found shimmering here-and-there, from time-to-time. Finding Venetian sun in late December would not be easy. The light was low and the alleys tall. I wound my way out into the open piazza at the front of the Santa Maria della Salute. The massive edifice cast its shadow upon me with the pull of its gravity. I looked up to the screaming angels—a baroque cacophony of heavy Catholicism. I wondered to myself how long it had been since my last confession.