Reflections in a puddle

20130701-123531.jpgIt is an early summer morning. It rained the night before as I walk a mile or so before I climb into the car for the morning’s mega commute. The parking lot near my home is dappled with puddles slowly evaporating. It reminds me of when I first started taking black and white photographs in high school. One of my favorite subjects was reflections of the sky in puddles.

I do not remember what initially attracted me to the subject matter, but I remember loading a 35mm SLR manual camera–either an Olympus or a Pentex–with a spool of film, pulling the leader and lining the sprocket holes with the sprockets, securing the leader to the spindle, closing the back door and advancing the film a couple frames. I would sling the camera over my shoulder and head outdoors to capture a surreal glimpse of the heavens from the perspective of puddles on asphalt. Or pools of water on gravel roads or a grassy field.

After collecting images captured and hidden on a roll of exposed black and white film, I returned to the darkroom at the high school and processed the film. First developing the amber film strips and then placing it in the enlarger to make prints. The way the image emerged from the paper as it floated in the developer solution was no end of amazement for me–like watching an unseen ghost suddenly materialize. The image of a lamp post in a puddle near the grainery, the water tower with clouds dancing from the pavement, the side of the building of the Coal Miner’s bar on Main Street or a self-portrait reflecting in a pool of water in an alley.

Something about a reflection seen from a different perspective captivated me. How can I look at a subject differently? How can I view it from a different angle–another perspective? I guess that is how I approach a lot of things today–asking myself, What is the wider context? Some days I just need to take a long walk on an early summer morning and look for those puddles, search for a different angle of the sky, watch the fog on the mountain tops from a mud puddle. Maybe a distorted, impressionistic reflection will inform me of something I did not see before.

NOTES:
From the archives. Consider this a Throwback-Thursday-what-did-I-write-five-years-ago entry. #TBT, #ThrowbackThursday: https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2013/07/
Six years ago I wrote this: A bookless American library: https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2012/08/02/a-bookless-american-library/
Eight years ago: Making its own app adds revenue for beleaguered newspaper: https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2010/08/02/making-its-own-app-adds-revenue-for-beleaguered-newspaper/
Ten years ago: https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2008/08/01/998/
25 years from now I want to: https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2009/08/04/scumblr-microwalrus-gumnos-mediatinker-com/

Thursday Great Lakes blues

Thursday Great Lakes blues

Lake Michigan. Last week. As viewed from the the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Baumgartner Galleria. Glass sculpture.

Winter window garden

Winter window garden

Enduring below freezing and sub-zero weather is a challenge. Green plants in the window are a delightful remedy if not evidence of common grace.

World Peace Tree at Cathedral Square Park

World Peace Tree at Cathedral Square Park

Sunset over East Town

Listening to a recording of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion Aria: “Gebt Mir Meinen Jesum Wieder” while the sun sets over East Town. It is going to be a late Friday night.

Baby, it’s cold outside

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The outside air temperature this morning, when I woke up, was -6°F. Won’t event mention the windchill factor. The window completely frosted over. It is December. Wonderfully cold and beautiful.

Almost wanted to spend the day in bed composing a new list of twelve Advent poems to accompany the ever popular post Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry). Here’s one Advent poem I am considering for a new list.


The birth of wonder[1]
by Madeleine L’Engle

When I am able to pray with the mind in the heart, I am joyfully
able to affirm the irrationality of Christmas.

As I grow older
I get surer
Man’s heart is colder,
His life no purer.
As I grow steadily
More austere
I come less readily
To Christmas each year.
I can’t keep taking
Without a thought
Forced merrymaking
And presents bought
In crowds and jostling.
Alas, there’s naught
In empty wassailing
Where oblivion’s sought.
Oh, I’d be waiting
With quiet fasting
Anticipating
A joy more lasting.
And so rhyme
With no apology
During this time
Of eschatology:
Judgement and warning
Come like thunder.
But now is the hour
When I remember
An infant’s power
On a cold December.
Midnight is dawning
And the birth of wonder.

NOTES:
[1] “The birth of wonder” by Madeleine L’Engle. Published in the book WinderSong by Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw.

A cold, bright Cathedral Square Park

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The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, full moon (or nearly full moon) rising, and Christmas lights brighten the cold December night.

Afternoon walk


Somedays a walk to the river is a remedy. Amid . . . read more ->

Frosted window at sunrise

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When night winds leaves subzero signatures on the Saturday morning window, it is time for coffee and jazz and few lines of poetry… [1]

Try to count the colors
In a frosted window at sunrise
try to imagine the hues and shades
Of a Wisconsin winter morning…

NOTES
[1] With apologies to Three Crosses, inspired by song “Michelangelo”

My breath — a smoke signal

DSCN5088[sqr-basic-vintage-HKfilm]Yesterday’s afternoon walk was a bit chilly. Air temperature was around 10°F with wind chill of -7°F. Especially at the corner of Broadway and East Wisconsin. It was practically a wind tunnel. Crossing Water Street was not much better. But I finally made it across the bridge and to the River Walk. 

The river was not quite frozen. And for the most part, very few people are out for a wintery stroll. One woman pulled her faux fur lined hood over her head and quickly shuffled out of the Wells Fargo building to a waiting SUV. A couple guys, both dressed in thick dark coats, waited for a bus. There was a man waiting at the street corner smoking a cigarette. He wore a red flannel jacket and no gloves.

Funny how cigarette smoke is so distinct in the frigid air. The subtle distinctions between Camel Turkish Gold 100’s, Marlboro Red, Newport Menthol Blue and Chesterfield Bronze is almost as unmistakable as the scent of a fajita or a falafel. Wondered why he had no gloves.

There was a Tranströmer poem I tried to recall as I walked along the River Walk. My breath, thick clouds, attempted to signal a line of the poem. What was it about? A train? A couple in a hotel? Something about night? Or was it a horizon? The frozen river surface does not help. And forty minutes in the cold temperature sent me back to the warm harbor of the office building.