17 January 2008

The Eye Denied, The Spirit Sated.

Sometimes, you just have to pull over. Your destination isn't that important. Just pull over, put on your flashers, stand, and admire how beautiful the world is when the light hits what is and what we've created a certain way, at a discrete time.

I have always adored the last hour of day.

Twilight falling
Nightmusic's calling

Palpable rosehoneyglow light. I imagine I could reach my hand out into what my eyes behold and feel a substance that is the light. Living around New Paltz, Wallkill, Shawangunk, Gardiner, Rosendale, and environs is a gift that never stops giving. So was Robert Deniro's donation to buy the land on the ridges and mountaintops and protect it so no selfish persons could build their fantasy house and tarnish the spiritual beauty of the horizon. To gaze at the horizon and see the mountains is a right that must be protected. No matter what is going on in my life, my mind, my ego, I can at any moment look up and out and be struck into a moment of absolute silence and awe by the mountains that call to my soul with a patient insistence as mysterious and immovable as the tide in my blood that always pulls me back to the contemplation of and desire to know of my ancestors and return to the places they lived: Ireland, Italy, Germany, France, and England. In that order. I have gone to Italy; that pull has been alleviated. I do look forward to one day returning again, with my love to share the joys of Italy.

Dark farmhouses against the sky
Every night I must wonder why

At this time of year, one can see the white of unmelting snow up in the mountains' unmolested heights. The way the sun's angle and the sky's fluctuations of nimbus create light and color that reflect off that snow and those austere dark-barked trees in their wintry solitude and silence again and again shock me into a moment of mindquiet that is an ecstasy and a reminder as to why the city is ultimately not for me.

Worth contemplation is the inability of the photographic image of these sights to truly instill the same sense of awe. Some come close. I worked on G. Steve Jordan's 2008 calendar, editing it before its shipment to the Chinese printers. G. Steve Jordan is a perfectionist and an excellent nature photographer whose livelihood is his passionate love of this land. He has walked and perched and grabbed from Nature moments of visual perfection from almost every uncivilized foot of Ulster County and surrounding areas. His images come close, especially when printed on high quality paper in large sizes. There is no substitute for being in the moment of the beauty and the arrest of the image.

Lately, I have been enjoying the cold. Not that it has actually been that cold, compared to an average New York winter, but it is January in New Paltz and Wallkill and Goshen and all the places I tend to be in as of late. Last night, in the twilight, I went for a long walk with Jacki. Dark farmhouses against the sky. It was beautiful. Well-built, expansive, and reasonably rustic houses with billowing woodsmoke issuing from the pipes alongside the house alternated with creepy old places. Abandoned eyebrow colonials. ( 'Something you know about,' whispers the sibilant devil's voice within me.) Sheffield ponies that wander over to be petted. Healthily flowing creeks. State protected woodlands. Sentence fragments describing location like Cormac McCarthy's The Road. And before us, the mountain, with silent knowing, awesome power, immortal perseverance, and a numinous presence which speaks to the bones.

Words support like bones.

The cold makes me feel more alive. Always has. One reason you will never see me moving to Florida. I am drawn to arctic places. It is a Romantic dream which I am afraid would kill me. Today, I chose to sit outside on the back porch of the Mudd Puddle. I was alone. I was not out there to smoke cigarettes. I just love the cold, the absence of music, the noises of life around me, the river in front of me, the flat fields across from me, the mountains indifferent to me in the distance, the strange travellers of the Rail Trail. After about forty-five minutes, I was very fucken cold, as Euchrid Eucrow would say, but I felt very alive and very happy to be alive.

On the drive home from meeting with my mom at the Newburgh Barnes & Noble (a favorite meeting spot of ours) the left hook and uppercut of twilight colors and snowtopped, darkbranched mountains in the distance was again too much for me. I pulled over my car and stood and stared. I fervently desired to capture the beauty. My MacBook's Photo Booth application was punishing me with colors that weren't even there and made a cliché of the horizon that took my breath away (cliché). Photo Booth is really good at taking pictures of me and other people. It is really bad at taking pictures of what is in front of me and delectable to the connoisseur who lives in my eye––the one who drinks some arresting sights like rare, prized, dusty bottles of red wine.

Here, for your twenty-first century perusal, are some images of that sight. While they fail to do any justice to what I felt and saw, I probably would not have written this post--which has been quite enjoyable and probably the highest quality writing I have posted on it yet--had I not been compelled to take the pictures and then disappointed by the results. As always, the attempted photography lapsed into an exercise of vanity.

1 comment:

frankie teardrop said...

you've always appreciated the cold weather more than i. whereas i feel similarly about the chill bringing me to life, your tolerance for it lasts longer. always has.

did you honestly bust your macbook out in the bitter cold countryside? be careful with the precious!

wonderful writing, indeed. and i love the second and third picture.