Solstice Passed


Much of the shoreline at the head of the harbor is quasi-industrial, related primarily to the recreational boat industry.  Some people would find that a tragic loss of wetlands and uglification of beautiful natural views.  I kind of like an occasional crane against the sky, docks and bulkheads providing reflections in the water.  Scenes like this evoke more stories and imaginings than yet another seagull soaring against the clouds.  At least sometimes.

In any case,  the area is much more visually appealing than it was a century ago, when this area was filled with gasification plants, coal dumps, oil depots, power generation facilities, and the rotting remnants of the extensive dockworks that were necessary for this to be a working port before the coming of the railroads.   Now the uses are somewhat more gentle visually, and probably even environmentally.  All modern change is not for the worse.

Sometimes I do not need to leave my front yard to be struck by wonder.  I try not to get overly into “I am an artist” now _ my photographs are purposely crude and without much artifice.  But my eyes _ well my eyes are able to see beauty everywhere.  The sun through our Japanese maple trees seemed fully as deserving of being poorly captured as any wide vista of sand and sea.

Life, of course, is a balance like that.  We are so constructed that there is a very fine line between being so entranced with our surroundings that we catatonically never budge very far, and being in an instant terminally bored by exactly the same thing.  What most advice misses is that not only are both states completely valid, even if contradictory, but both are essential components of human consciousness.  We are excited and bored (and many other things) at exactly the same place, with each change of train of thought.  The only real advice is to accept it and use the gift happily.

This is a view from the beach at the Teddy Roosevelt park in Oyster Bay, looking back on the Lloyd Neck peninsula where Joan and I live.  The amazing thing is that the hills look almost uninhabited, even though we know that they are jammed with houses and crawling with cars and people in constant motion.  In some ways, it looks more virgin and primeval than it would have a century or two ago, when the hills were almost completely emptied of trees for crops and meadows.

I remain hopeful that, if our species can just survive another century or so, it will be able to fit into the environment more gracefully.  We have the seeds of optimistic greatness in us, for both ourselves and everything around us, if only we are not overwhelmed by mistakes carried on from the past.  In some ways, I suppose, I am lucky that I will never learn the outcome.


The old boathouse at the Gold Coast Mansion continues to decay along with its dock _ the county has no money, and few have any use for it.  Reeds and honeysuckle add a romantic touch.  Summer is life, but also hastens decay of the unused and dead.

Probably the houses being constructed by the wealthy today will not last as long as these old ones, almost a hundred years along.  The climate is becoming more severe, the current materials are less permanent, and in this country at least we build for decades only.  Whatever comes along and is new will, we think, be much better.  For all the warnings, those that can reside near the oceans, and the oceans will soon claim this structure and all the more recent ones, leaving new expanses of shoreline for colonization.


It’s not Central Park, but Huntington’s own little Hecksher has well-maintained charm.  Totally artificial constructions _ like both those parks _ can be as beautiful, meaningful, and refreshing as wilderness.  They are, after all, expressions of human spirit working together.  They exist only because generations cooperated, and citizens contribute annually with taxes for upkeep and a few of the wealthier have dedicated some of their private money to the public good.

When it goes well, and people respect civilization, places like these are amazing.  All kinds of different humans, of different age, condition, status, and background manage to coexist not only peacefully, but joyfully.  Each in their own universe, yet each connected in beautiful relaxed happiness.  If there is a heaven, it must resemble such a park on a fine summer day, with flowers in full bloom and the sounds of children playing in the distance.  

Common blue chicory now springing up everywhere.  Almost as common as ragweed, growing in much the same places, its large pale flowers are another of the common wonders we often ignore because they are not grand and overwhelming and mysterious.  Unless you actually look at them of course.

I marvel now at how many people seem not to see nor even look unless there is some mechanical contrivance involved.  People go about peering into cameras as if they were new eyes on the universe, suddenly aware of the beauty of dewdrops on the grass.  I suppose that is no different than artists sketching _ seeing as an artist does is an important gift to develop for oneself.  Even so, they tend to focus on what they consider appropriate for a unique vision, and manage to continue to be blind to the vast everyday beauty that surrounds us always.

A quiet little bench in a grove along a pleasant shore, an old tree providing shade, a perfect place for meditation no matter the time and place.  You can almost imagine Socrates or Lao Tzu contemplating the universe.  Bodies of water, with their complex ever-changing fractal reflections and waves almost always evoke thoughts of the infinite.

Of course, a mere picture ignores the fact that right behind this lovely bench is a highway filled with smoking speeding SUV’s and the grinding gears of numerous yard crew rigs and boat haulers and an occasional diesel roar and shudder as a garbage or cesspool truck roars by.  Nor does it account for the roar of jets and the more annoying thwack of frequent helicopters on their way to the hospital.  And a good deal of the time there are constant child screams from the adjoining beach.  That’s the problem with any reduction of reality in an attempt to preserve it _ too much is always left out.




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