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.

Ice Circles

20160223-184201.jpgAn ice circle, or ice disc, forms in slow moving water in cold climates.

Imagine my surprise when I spotted several ice circles slowly spinning in the waters north of the art museum on an afternoon walk. Beautiful. Like gears grinding away rough edges into glistening discs in the afternoon sun. The delicate slushy, glassy sound reminds me of wind chimes. But there is no wind today. Flags like wilted flowers hang on the poles around the war memorial building. A hawk is perched on a lamp post.

The noisy hurly burly of East Town’s traffic and many construction projects is a dim echo to the mesmerizing music of ice circles.

I could sit here beside those circling ice discs the rest of the day. Or at least until the sun sets.

But only a few minutes remain of my break. And there is work to be done — projects to complete. Matters of consequence.

With hesitation, I leave the spinning ice circles to perform their tranquil charms to the neighboring ducks, gulls and the lone hawk.

A moment with a stranger

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Sometimes you have to share a moment with a stranger.

The wind chilled my hands as I walked. Needed to stretch my legs after a long commute. I had watched the sky from the green space west of Oak Leaf Trail. Had not planned to compose a photo of the scene. Only enjoy it.

But the desire to compose a photograph won over and I moved closer to the walking bridge over Lincoln Memorial Drive. I stood for awhile watching the beauty of the morning unfold. There will never be another morning like this. Not in thousand years. Once a morning is spent, it can never be duplicated. I have read how the great masters of haiku captured moments in a few lines. Saved them for centuries. Could I do the same? With a photograph?

I do not know how long I stood there. But after I composed a few shots, I placed my camera back in my bag. I noticed an older man to the north. He stood near the walking bridge. I had seen him while walking, but did not notice him while photographing the scene.

We stood there for a moment together watching the sun rise, the clouds, the lake, the lights, the darks. Amid the roar of construction behind us and the wind, it was a quiet moment. My hands grew cold. I saw the stranger pull a mobile device from his pocket. He held it to the sky. Tried to capture the same thing I did. We tried to haiku a morning in a thousand pixels.

He still stood there when I departed and walked north on Prospect Drive.

Behind the camera

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A concrete slab harvested from a demolished city building defends Pershing Park from the frozen Lake Michigan waves. It is large — the size of a small sedan — and surrounded by smaller rubble. Rebar and concrete and ice mix into a violent Jackson Pollack sketch as waves thunder into the shoreline.

The temperature outside is in the single digits — lower with the windchill. In the small sedan, the heater is not working. Or not well. The driver’s toes — numb from the cold — curl and uncurl. The driver is trying to capture an image — a photograph — of the spray from the waves when they hit the shoreline and shoot twenty feet into the air.

The visit to the public library introduced the driver to books by E. L. Doctorow, Wendell Berry and Alberto Manguel and a book on the history of time by Oxford Press. Timing the waves as they advance on the shoreline creates an illusion of distance. Patiently the driver composes a few more images.

The icy air advances deeper into epidermis. Reluctantly the driver places the lens cap on the camera and stows it in a black bag next to the library books.