Openscapes

Monday

  • Huntington is blessed with many landscapes, seascapes, townscapes, and harborscapes.  Language mavens were obsolete before anyone got around to naming mallscapes, ballparkscapes, and parkinglotscapes, among others, but those are here as well.  A photograph from a cheap camera in such a place never really captures the view nor invokes the actual experience, but it can give an idea.
  • I try to come up with a theme each week that unifies my daily entries somewhat, and in this case I am trying to be more general than usual.  We’re driving up to see our son in Rochester on Thursday, where there are farmscapes quite different from the few remaining on Long Island, and vineyardscapes much more vast.  So, for a while, I will concentrate on the large rather than the small.

Tuesday

  • Skyscapes, of course, are available to anyone anywhere who is not locked in a cell.  Some are more dramatic than others, but all bestow a sense of freedom. 
  • It takes a professional photographer, with an artist sensibility, to truly record a sense of such things.  I see well enough, but do not have the technical skills to convey much.  On the other hand, the purpose of this blog, if it has any beyond keeping me occupied, is to encourage people to open their eyes and hearts to all the fantastic opportunities that surround us all the time.  Suggestions, then, are all I can offer.

Wednesday

  • Few hillscapes exist in Huntington (or even Long Island.)  This area is just a big pile of sand left by the glaciers.  Still, there are bluffs along the North Shore and long ridges (called moraines) further inland.   Huntington exists where it does because three passes through such obstacles allowed easier access to the interior by horse-drawn wagons.  Even small hills can be steep, and for draft animals (or people of a certain age) any hill is too long.
  • I probably picture this hill too much.  On the other hand, there is something to be said for knowing a locale intimately through years, seasons, and changes.  Utrillo painted Montmartre as if he had caressed each wall (and possibly had, returning from the bars.)  Corot treated Fontainebleau forest as his own private garden.  I find an awful lot of professionals these days concentrate too much on the same famous feature and put all their effort into effects.

Thursday

  • Temporary farewell to tidal vistas.  Rochester is four hundred miles away, through cities, forests, mountains, plains, fields and at least one huge swamp, crossing once nearly impossible barriers like the Sound, Hudson river, deep ravines, high bluffs, following the only early (water) path connecting the East Coast to the center of the country.  Seven-odd hours, taking it all for granted.  Hundreds of years ago, most people in Western Europe hardly traveled more than five or ten miles from their village; until very recently almost everyone else in the world did the same.  Today such a person is considered a sheltered recluse.
  • By such standards, I am almost a habitual hermit.  I try to appreciate the daily miracles _ even the man-made ones of abundant food and water, electricity, medicine, entertainment.  But once in a while, we break out a bit, and at such times I strive to view such things as wide clear highways and fast cars not as ordinary conveniences, but as magical passages to places that are different enough to refresh my sense of perspective.  

Friday

  • Didn’t take pictures of farmland, although much of western New York was flush with crops, having received adequate rainfall this year.  Hard to remember that New York is a major agricultural state, fortunately situated in the event of global warming, since it is unaffected by sea level rise, is not within any models of severe systemic drought, and would only benefit from a few additional degrees of temperature especially in the winter.  Of course, tourism, as the main (only) street of Canandaigua demonstrates, remains a strong element everywhere.
  • I’ve told my son to purchase land up there, only half jokingly.  Unfortunately, because of the time scales involved, only governments and corporations (and wealthy aristocratic land-holding families) gain much from long term trends.  The rest of us must get by in our mayfly lives with whatever short term events are going on.

Saturday

  • Lake Canandaigua, one of the Finger Lakes, demonstrates why folks upstate do not feel deprived of water activities even without an ocean, sound, or salt-water bays.  Unaffected by tides, the docks are a little unsettling to someone used to high pilings. 
  • I had hoped to take lots of pictures of farms and fields, which were qui
    te plentifully in evidence while on the thruway.  But as it turned out this was a complete family vacation, and our son is an urban professional no more into spending time looking at cows and corn than any of his peers in Manhattan or any other city.  So I’m making do with whatever pictures I did take.  Trust me, however, we passed lots of farms just getting here and back to Rochester.

Sunday

  • Gritty Monroe street, a block from Wayne’s apartment, resembles in some ways the old Greenwich village, the only difference being that there are back yards and tree lined side streets behind it.  But the ambience of all kinds of odd people _ bikers, transvestites, near-hippies, young professionals and college students provides an interesting mix, which he claims is mostly kept in check and is a lot less frightening than it was ten years ago.
  • The south side of Rochester is the good side, not the one with crime and murders and urban poverty.  It is slowly gentrifying, but never sank particularly low, and has a wonderful housing stock.  Hopeful government redevelopment and infrastructure improvement is in evidence all over.  In the meantime, rents and houses are affordable.  It’s lovely on a hot August afternoon, in its own way.  We have been assured it is far less so in the middle of February, although even with snow piled high a vast assortment of restaurants and bars of all types stay open.

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