winter one day, spring the next

River walk2Ford Street Bridge and Blue Sky on the Lower Genesee River

In a single day the temperatures rise and snow disappears. Wind carries the memory of winter in its biting chill, but the warmth of sun belies the seasonal shift. I spend an afternoon walking the Genesee River Trail around downtown Rochester. These riverbanks resound with the stories of historic upstate New York for me learned in school History lessons. Today it is known as a The Flower City. In its inception it was The Flour City due to the perfect drop of waterfall segments along the banks of downtown where they built the first flour mills, perfect for grinding and setting to market the rich fields of wheat on the adjacent farmland. They even built an aqueduct of the Erie Canal right through downtown to literally capitalize on the flour trade going upstate to the Great Lakes, west to Lake Erie, or east to Albany and the wealthy markets of New York City. We walk across the old bridges, the aqueduct empty and covered with colorful graffiti now. Canals outdone by trains and eventually trucks on the ever-increasingly savvy infrastructure. Mules and barges left for museums and empty aqueducts ghosting the old waterways and locks. I have a dream to buy a cabin on the Erie Canal one day. For this afternoon I walk the circuit of the River Trail from calm muddy banks, to roiling waterfall chases, amid ghosts of my childhood and the construction of middle America. Eventually a feeling of panic comes to me, sad to have this time with Sue coming to a close. As I walk these paths made familiar from childhood, I relax and realize that I am always walking in the sure shadows of fond memories shared with my best friend in this city that shaped our lives.

winter light

SnowTOPSnowfall in April…Lavender Farm in Upstate NY

Sometimes you just walk into the perfect day. Clouds heavy with snow dim the day and dull the light. We crunch through a world of gray as snow flurries dust the ground swirling at the edge of a major storm, we get the mild storm frosting the countryside. Snow, gray skies seem to absorb sound and light, children move through the overcast as if in an old movie reel – stop animation. We walk in wintered landscape obscured by clouds, until sunset cuts a swath of light just beneath the seam of day and lights up the ground level landmarks, setting ablaze a few trees, the western slit of marmalade sky, west-facing walls. I hold my breath and listen for angelic voices in this perfect light.

winter comes again

SnowBest2.jpgApril in Upstate New York

Snowstorms sweep across the Midwest and Northeast this week and dust upstate New York with enough of the white stuff for snowball fights and a winter romp for visiting Californians. I love the erratic weather of upstate New York, winter snowstorms followed in a few days by 77-degree Spring weather! For the first round – winter – flight cancellations add two more days of vacation for our extended family reunion and remind us that even when it’s bad, life is good. Susan invites us to her farm in West Bloomfield and the kids run wild in snow gear – snowball fights, snowmen, snow chase,…add a dog and it is an all-out frolic. My hands start to numb and my cellphone no longer recognizes my finger as the wind-chill lowers the cold weather to unbearable. Turkey dinner, with all the trimmings, real cranberry, apple dressing, gravy,… followed by real hot cocoa is the epitome of fond memories of Northeast winters. I bath my hands under cool water to reduce the pain from chilled joints, and stretch them out around the handle of my mug of hot cocoa, to warm me to the core.

coming home to beauty

Beauty3St. Paddy’s Day Explosion @ Alameda Harbor

So many people resent Daylight Saving Time, but I must confess – I love it. My timeframe shifts for more convenient sunrises and sunsets. As a teacher I also notice how much easier it makes the coming and going to and from school for students – a bit brighter on either end of the seasons. I hurry home on St. Patrick’s Day, this year on a Friday, takeout Italian pasta (butternut Squash ravioli – our favorite) from Trabocco at Southshore on Alameda. I wait for Greg and sit on the stern watching the clouds gather for the sunset show. I notice recently that there is no coloring of clouds at sunset this past week. I wax romantic as Stephen Corfidi of NOAA explains the factors of twilight phenomena replete with magnificent charts and color photo sequences. It turns out that the low-lying clouds this week lack color due to formation, boundary layer, and pollution factors. What they don’t lack is superb pattern formation. I am mesmerized by this slow-motion burst of fibrous stratocumulus clouds. They expand in a V-formation explosion across the harbor. Sun burns straight through them – no reflective color, but oh! That exquisite pattern of fine-fingered white against cerulean blue sky is more than enough for tonight’s show. My Dolby cinema group husband would be pleased to know that, “clouds catch the last red-orange rays of the setting sun and the first light of the dawn like a theatre screen, and reflect this light to the ground.” Grand show this evening, even as the theatre of our harbor lacks the color to impress, but rocks the pattern design category.