If I had no calendar I’d gauge my seasons by the rising sun. It seems to be better way to do things anyway. Humans are always screwing around with calendars and time and making a mess of them. Twice per year we think we’re very clever to move our clocks back or forth in the interest of “saving” daylight. It’s a ridiculous notion that does nothing but make everyone cranky on the two Sunday mornings after this feeble attempt of sorcery. Calendars and clocks cause a lot of anxiety in this world. We’d all be better off just paying attention to the sun.
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An old woman pointed at the tiny fish, making a point of not smiling at all. The fishmonger picked up on the seriousness of the situation and stood up straight. Venetian women at the Rialto Market are not to be taken lightly and this particular one knew what she wanted.
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.
The fog of the Veneto had smothered the entire Venetian Lagoon with a cottony wall of cold vapor. There was nothing to see on this vaporetto ride out to the Lido—nothing outside the windows that is. Inside the cramped boat’s cabin, I stared at the back of a fellow passenger. He, in turn, was staring at the back of the person in front of him. And on it went from back to front of the boat. Like several hundred anchovies in a tin can—the salted kind from Sicily—we were jammed into the steel confines of this listing vessel. It seemed like a one-way trip to Purgatory.
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
When I was a very young boy all the gas stations in our town had colorful, little propellors strung between posts. Designed to attract customers, the propellors would spin in the breeze and make an odd, fluttering sound that I still remember well. I’d look out the window of the back seat of our station wagon and watch the propellors in marvel. I’d roll down the window so that I could hear their sound. I’d get down low as to get a good view of the propellors in the sky. I wondered if they might take off at any moment, carrying the gas stations with them.
Sunday’s farmers market during the summer is always packed. It’s that way in the summer. No one can resist the fresh corn or the plump, red tomatoes. And the peach guy has about twenty samples on which some people gorge for about twenty minutes. They look like overgrown chipmunks, cheeks full of peach slices and the juice dripping off their chins. The long days attract mothers and their strollers and fathers and their sons. Mixed among the seasonal hoards are the regulars who I see week in and week out, even in the lean months of January when broccoli seems to be the only star of the market.
“I need to photograph more,” I said to myself on a crisp, spring day. I was in one of those artist’s slumps where I felt the desire to make something but not quite having the energy to lift myself from my chair. Instead I rocked myself into further justification for doing nothing. I looked out my window knowing that I was wasting a perfectly good day.
My dad was a people watcher. He could sit in a public place all day long and watch the world as it passed by him. I grew up in New Jersey—the outer suburbs of New York. An area ruled by autos, it was rare for us to take public transportation anywhere. But, when we did take the bus, the train, or the ferry, my dad would invent stories about the people on them. I suspect that we all play this game whether consciously or not. We label people and assume certain aspects about their lives. The mental stories become more elaborate when we’re forced into the idle observation associated with public transit.
The San Francisco waterfront was still gray from the early-morning summer fog. For the second time in two weeks I’d visited this very spot with my camera. The waterfront seemed different on this day. As I looked deep into the bay, the reflections danced with a darkness that I found compelling. Mostly amorphous, they changed as we came up adjacent to the San Francisco Bay Bridge. These long, linear reflections made me stop in my tracks. The bridge has become familiar after ten thousand visits to this waterfront, seaming nothing like it did the first time I laid eyes on it some thirty years ago. Back then the sight of the bridge made me gasp, now it brought a faint smile and a deep breath of gratitude.