Walking. In Twilight.

75 minutes before sunrise, I start out in darkness, and slide into Twilight.

90 consecutive days, same loop, 5 miles, Cove Island Park and back.

I had to Google it, because I didn’t know what it was called, the in-between time between night and sunrise.

Twilight: “the soft glowing light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, caused by the refraction and scattering of the sun’s rays from the atmosphere.”

I have no clue what all that means —  and no interest in learning more.

I’m deep into Kate Zambreno’s new book: Drifts: A Novel. My kind of book. She describes it as “Prose, little things, I stammer out.” (I wish I could stammer, spit and cough out anything close to this.)

Her words: “A shock of color out of nowhere.” And that’s exactly what it was. Look at it. The photo above, taken @ 5:24 a.m. 24 minutes before sunrise. 24 minutes before sunrise. Where does this light, this ‘shock of color’ come from?

In a different time, a different scene, she goes on to talk about “the light of Vermeer’s paintings. Their silence and mystery…So often the painting seems to be of the same room, at the same picture window… whether the sun floods in directly or diffusely.”

And so here we are. 90 consecutive days on this same walk. The same room, the same picture window, a new Vermeer each morning.

I tuck my camera into my bag, and head home. I twist in my earbuds and listen to Audible pumping in the narration.  She closes out her book on an Albrecht Durer quote, back in the 1500’s (before the internet, before digital cameras):

What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things.”

And so it does Albrecht, so it does.


Notes:

  • Photo: 5:20 a.m. The Cove, Stamford, CT. July 30, 2020.
  • Inspired by: “The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” ~ Eden Phillpotts, from “A Shadow Passes
  • Book Review of Kate Zambreno’s book “Drifts: A Novel”: “Locked in a Creative Struggle, With Rilke as Her Guide” by Catherine Lacey, NY Times.

Miracle. All of It.

It’s 5:52 a.m., yesterday morning.

I’m done with The Cove Park portion of my 5 mile walk, and it’s the last 7/10s of a mile in the home stretch. On asphalt. Through the side streets. Heading home.

I’m tired. I’m dragging. And my head has shifted to Work.

I slip the cap on the lens while I’m walking (because one cannot waste precious minutes).  I tuck the camera into the sling, zip up the bag, and swing it over my shoulder. I accelerate my pace. And practice my breathing as instructed by James Nestor. (Because he’s so deep into my consciousness, I can’t take 10 breaths without thinking about his instruction.)

I round the corner onto Anthony Lane and hear a rustle.

And there they are. The two of them. Staring at me.

I freeze.

They freeze.

Please. Please don’t move. I slide my sling from back to front, and start unzipping the bag. I don’t take my eyes off them.

Please. Please don’t move. I don’t know anything about shutter speed. Continuous bursts. Or whatever-the-Hell-else I need to catch you in motion.

I grab the camera. My hands shake, the lens hood flies off and hits the ground. The lens cap follows and rolls a foot or two on the shoulder. My God Man. Get a Grip. You’re going to blow this.

Jack turns to his brother: “Is this amateur hour?  Can you believe this guy?”  “No sh*t. I’m getting tired of posing here.”

I raise the camera.

I see a thin film through the view finder. OMG, the humidity is fogging up the lens.

It clears.

And then comes the camera shake. I tuck my elbows in tight to my body. My breaths are short and quick, hot little puffs.

I move my index finger to the shutter, ever so gently.

I zoom in on my targets.

Now!

And Bam! I got it!  And another. And another. And another. And another.

They turn to walk to the woods.

I watch them disappear.

Wow, so Beautiful.  Miracle, all of it.


Notes:

  • Photos: Mine! A Miracle! July 27 2020.
  • Post Inspired by Kiki. She told me that if I didn’t share this story, she would send the Dale and Sawsan posse after me. So here it is.
  • Post title Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Morning Walk. See, But Can’t Sit.

It started on Friday with my virtual Aussie friend commenting on my T.G.I.F. post: “So, are you sitting there yet.” And like Pavlov’s dog, I take the bait and reply: “Sitting? There? Anywhere? No.”  But, the punch lands and it hangs all day yesterday, and into the wee hours of this morning when I reply: “It’s 2:10 am here. Lifeline required.” She gives me another shot, this time about gadget addiction.  What is it about me that encourages these blows?

I step away from her truths (therapy) and go back and re-read her last post titled “Accept…then Act” @ Living in This Moment —  “change comes from making space in stillness to see my situation from a higher perspective…” Like WTH is that, and where does one start? I totally have the “Act Act Act” part down, or perhaps better stated” Do Do Do Do.”

I read several chapters in Susan Burton’s new book “Empty: A Memoir” and stop at “…A deeper understanding, a new tenderness.” I close the book, crawl out of bed and get ready for my morning walk.

4:30 am. I’m out the door. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning Walk

Where does it start? Muscles tense. One leg a pillar, holding the body upright between the earth and sky. The other a pendulum, swinging from behind. Heel touches down. The whole weight of the body rolls forward onto the ball of the foot. The big toe pushes off, and the delicately balanced weight of the body shifts again. The legs reverse position. It starts with a step and then another step and then another that add up like taps on a drum to a rhythm, the rhythm of walking. The most obvious and the most obscure thing in the world, this walking that wanders so readily into religion, philosophy, landscape, urban policy, anatomy, allegory, and heartbreak.

—  Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking (Penguin Books (June 1, 2001)


Photo: Bjorn Breimo, Walking (Norway)

Walking. In Search of my Spirit Bird.

4:25 am. I’m out the door. Dark Sky app recap: 74° F, 100% humidity, cloud cover 89%.

It’s dark. A wafer thin haze hangs below the street lamps.

I walk.

A firefly flickers, gets caught up in a light wind gust, and disappears. And at that moment, unexplainably so, I felt Small, Little, against the backdrop of the World. This flickering, illuminating, little miracle. “What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” (Crowfoot, the Blackfoot warrior, 1890)

Me and Crowfoot?  Crowfoot and me? Crowfoot and I? Oh, for God Sake, let it go.

I walk.

Same route. 5-mile loop. Since May 5th, daily, without interruption. Same camera bag sling, slung over my right shoulder, camera affixed with strap to right wrist. The Autonoman

Raccoon up ahead, picking away at the remains of road kill. He skitters away as I approach. Sprinkler systems fire off at 4:30 am, hissing as water hits the street.

I walk.

I note the silence. This narrow slice of time, before daybreak. Nocturnal creatures and me. Afraid of horror movies, the dark and tripping in a pothole and taking a header, I march through the suburban streets on my way to the waterfront.

I take my first shots of The Cove, high tide.  And 78 additional shots that morning.  Little did I know, that 90 minutes later I would learn that all but 10 photos, would be blurry because of some dial I inadvertently depressed. Fuming, at my desk panning through the photos, rubbing my eyes, thinking it’s my f*cking eyes going, because it just can’t be this expensive camera. I move closer to the screen. It’s not my eyes.  My God. You are an Amateur. What a waste. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

“In fact, from the first clasped stick and improvised carrier, tools have extended the body’s strength, skill, and reach to a remarkable degree. We live in a world where our hands and feet can direct a ton of metal to go faster than the fastest land animal, where we can speak across thousands of miles, blow holes in things with no muscular exertion but the squeeze of a forefinger. It is the unaugmented body that is rare now, and that body has begun to atrophy as both a muscular and a sensory organism. In the century and a half since the railroad seemed to go too fast to be interesting, perceptions and expectations have sped up, so that many now identify with the speed of the machine and look with frustration or alienation at the speed and ability of the body. The world is no longer on the scale of our bodies, but on that of our machines, and many need—or think they need—the machines to navigate that space quickly enough. Of course, like most “time-saving” technologies, mechanized transit more often produces changed expectations than free time; and modern Americans have significantly less time than they did three decades ago. To put it another way, just as the increased speed of factory production did not decrease working hours, so the increased speed of transportation binds people to more diffuse locales rather than liberating them from travel time (many Californians, for example, now spend three or four hours driving to and from work each day). The decline of walking is about the lack of space in which to walk, but it is also about the lack of time—the disappearance of that musing, unstructured space in which so much thinking, courting, daydreaming, and seeing has transpired. Machines have sped up, and lives have kept pace with them.”

— Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking


Image: rpffm58 with speed

Sunday Morning

In my room, the world is beyond my understanding;

But when I walk I see that it consists of three or four hills and a cloud.

—  Wallace Stevens, “Of the Surface of Things” in Wallace Stevens: A Celebration

 


Photo: DK – Daybreak. 5:51 am. July 5, 2020. 70° F. Humidity 96%. Wind: 6 mph. Gusts: 11 mph. Cloud Cover: 21%. Weed Avenue, Stamford, CT

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Sleep (way) short. Weight way up.  Coincidence?

4:43 a.m. Out the door. Day 43. Same 5-mile loop.

Cloud cover 91%.  Humidity 96%.  Heavens spitting rain.

I walk.

No sunrise.
No sign of swans sleeping.
No sign of mallards, and their brood.
No Cormorant fishing.
No loon call, breaking the silence.

Misty, foggy daybreak.

Blue.

I round the corner, and march down a side street. 10 minutes from home.  Emails. Conference calls. Zoom. Heaviness begins to settle in.

And then, there it is.

I see it ahead.

Colors. Chalk on pavement.

Heaviness lifts.

[Read more…]

Morning Walk (90 sec)


Written by Harry Stead, Why Long Walks Will Change Your Life (Human Parts @ Medium.com)

Walking. With On Golden Pond.

3:30 am: Up. Six hours of sleep, easily two short. Two shots of Tylenol PM won’t keep this guy down. I think about amping up the dosage to three, soft baby blue, colored pills —  bad idea Doctor, bad idea.

3:35 am: Skim morning papers. RSS reader feeds. Blog Posts. Emails. Texts. Read a passage from Joyce Maynard’s At Home in the World where J.D. Salinger tells her: “Some day, Joyce…there will be a story you want to tell for no better reason than because it matters to you more than any other…You’ll stop looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re keeping everybody happy, and you’ll simply write what’s real and true. Honest writing always makes people nervous, and they’ll think of all kinds of ways to make your life hell. One day a long time from now you’ll cease to care anymore whom you please or what anybody has to say about you. That’s when you’ll finally produce the work you’re capable of.” Hmmm. Not ready for ‘real and true.’ And ‘honesty’ makes me nervous. But Salinger does offer sound reasoning for the mediocrity that spills out onto this page. There’ll be time enough to chase the written word that I’m capable of.

4:25 am: Strip, including Apple Watch. Ounces make massive differences. I step on the digital scale, and inhale. The figures race upward, like slots in Vegas, having similar odds.  It stops hard on the Score. I exhale.  Wow, good result. Space for large breakfast.

4:35 am: Check temperature. 60° F. Put on long sleeve shirt. 60° F and I need long sleeve shirt. For some reason this triggers a scene from “On Golden Pond” where Katherine Hepburn shouts: “Don’t be such an old poop Norman.”

4:40 am. 38 consecutive daybreaks in a row. On same walk. same location. same loop. I know precisely what time to leave the house to walk the mile to Long Island Sound and arrive ten minutes before Sunrise. I make a point to google WebMD when I get home to diagnose my form of OCD. I pack my camera bag, take 3 large gulps of water, and head out the door.

5:10 am. I’m on shoulder of Weed Avenue. The geese, 50 or so, float ever-so-still, catching their last bit of shut eye before the day starts.  There are two swans, with their heads tucked under their wings. Must be cozy in there. And mallards interspersed among the others in the sleepover.

There’s no traffic. Long Island Sound is quiet. The World gives Sun its moment of silence.

5:25 am. Here comes the Sun. The World stands still to watch the spectacle. I snap a few shots, put the camera down. And watch, the Sun, in all its glory, with gold and orange hues.

A loon, with its long, curved neck, breaks the silence with its call.

And this triggers another line from “On Golden Pond“. “Come here, Norman. Hurry up. The loons! The loons! They’re welcoming us back.”

Yes, they welcome me back. Thankfully. Again.

Each breath, a Gift.


Daybreak. 5:25 am. June 13, 2020. 60° F. Wind: 9 mph. Gusts: 22 mph. Cloud Cover: 3%. Weed Ave, Stamford, CT.

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