Transitions

Transitions

by Elizabeth McLaughlin

The Autumn colors arrived and vanished quickly due to unusual warm weather. I was disappointed with this season, felt betrayed and robbed by unnatural forces. However, it was now time for a change and very thankful for my sisters decision to visit this Christmas. It set the stage for me to act as a NYC tourist guide. The day we decided to go into Manhattan the weather changed from cold to frigid cold! Newscasters reported that a mini ice age was ramping up and warned the public to be prepared and dress for severe winter chills. I layered at least four tops, two pairs of socks and pants, woolen hat, knitted earth tone neck wrap and pink fiber gloves. This brought me back to the Bronx childhood memories of being stuffed into bulky down snow suit, toes forced into shoes covered with plastic bags and then squished into red rubber boots. Usually following such time-consuming layering many kids from the neighborhood took to hand carving igloos with interior slides onto the sidewalk, fierce snowball fights, snowman making or sleigh riding, skating at the park.

The train schedule into the city read ninety minutes but it could last longer with all the stops and weather related delays. We arrived early so I inquired at the ticket window to be pointed in a direction of a local coffee shop. The sound of Christmas carols in the Spanish language blasted from metal cone shaped speakers that were mounted on lamp posts. I dashed across the commuter filled parking lot and over to a town bakery. It was a first time experience to enter into a Spanish bakery. The line was orderly but fast. The bakery featured two large long glass counters. One displayed rolls, pastries, fancy cakes with small signs hand written in Spanish that described the confections. The other counter displayed what a customer would normally find in a neighborhood bakery. I decided to be daring and ordered a pastry labeled in Spanish. With a few words and hand signals the clerk and a customer tried the task of translating the ingredients. They both could not tell me in English what embellished this stuffed pastry but it looked sumptuous. Interestingly enough the woman at the cashier could understand how to make change in US dollars. Oh well, back at the train station we ended up sitting inside the unheated antiquated waiting room, coffee in one hand and Mexican pastry in the other, anticipating the train would accept passengers on time. I felt the rich taste of coconut and cinnamon melting inside my mouth with each sip of warm fresh roasted coffee. We could view from the oak framed glass window that the train idled on its tracks with doors still closed. Brave passengers stood outside, appearing totally unprepared for the weather, dressed in thin clothing and summer cotton sneakers. Arctic gusts of wind whipped across the open station platform and the passengers stood firm waiting to hear the vacuum train doors swish open. For many years I traveled on the Metro North from Westchester County into Grand Central Station but this was my first time traveling on the NJ Transit Line into Penn Station. xmas21This meant about a walk of approximately twenty blocks to Rockefeller Center. Not a real problem because my hiking boots could undertake subway grates, concrete stairs and any obstacle on this urban trail. I worried about my sister, her ankle swollen from leg surgery that it would be too much of a walk, however, she insisted on making the trek regardless of any discomfort to her leg. Taxis were at grinding halts and lost in traffic. The city blocks were short and the walk refreshing even in this frigid weather. My sister dragged me into a few tourist shops along the way because she wanted to bring back T Shirt gifts for her friends. I did not seem to mind her request because the shop stops offered a heated relief from the cold and she could rest a leg. Shop rents are high for these retail establishments so every inch of space is utilized to display something for sale. I could not help missing a zillion magnets of the Statue of Liberty. It came in a variety of sizes and after much thought decided on one for about four dollars.

It was awesome the prices were not designed to gouge tourists wallets! The army of tourists thickened as we naturally formed into moving groups that lead us to the bright flashing lights of Times Square. I do recall the day when it was often frowned upon to visit such a place because Times Square was noted for seedy pornographic businesses. It only took time for Times Square to gain movie theaters and cleaned out most of the riff raff. Even though the sky was gray, huge assorted sized digital media billboards lit up Times Square transforming the streets into a bright summer day.

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Psychologically everyone felt a few degrees warmer with light and people had good spirits and smiled. Red ribbon tape roped off the staging area to handle the large crowds for New Years Eve. People were everywhere and I never experienced so many on the streets, crossing intersections in swarms like buzzing bees, trying to reach places of work/business, theaters and eateries. Emergency sirens, honking horns and the intimidating sound of rumbling metro buses vibrated against the tall skyscrapers windows and the noise echoed down long side streets. It’s a common New York City sound!

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MOMA always became a destination for me and like all businesses in New York City, changed. A part of it is under construction and from what I could remember prior to this altered state the book store location was conveniently situated on the ground floor. Now, it is on the second floor. After passing a large MOMA billboard highlighting good things to come, xmas41I noticed a MOMA Design Store across the street from the museum. And they were having a spectacular Christmas Sale! Scarves were now on sale for sixty dollars and up, unfortunately, way beyond my budget. However, it was nice to see the trending watches, Japanese lanterns, modernistic wall clocks, unique gadgets. A dream purchase for most that require a specific contemporary piece to accent a Manhattan apartment. It is also utterly important for the urban chic to engage a visit to this store for name dropping about it at roof top parties and exclusive art gallery shows. My sister was in a New York rush to see the Saks Fifth Avenue light show and skaters at Rockefeller Center. therefore, after strolling through the museum lobby I vowed to return in a few months by myself and spend hours at the Design Store and MOMA.

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Rockefeller Center had waves of people taking pictures of skaters but something bothered me about the Christmas tree. xmas31For some reason it visually felt not as large or wide as most other years. I kept questioning myself about the lights and if that underwent a board’s decision to be changed. The skaters glided across the ring of ice as if they were stiff and obviously very cold. Wherever large pockets of people formed it was a guaranteed children’s window display magnet, such as LEGO. It was packed with parents and kids. The early evening light was dimming, the lights began to sparkle on Christmas tree, a corridor of angels and office building windows glowed against its stone facade. People began to point and shuffle weary feet in the direction of Saks Fifth Avenue because they did not want to miss the fabulously spectacular Saks Fifth Avenue light show!

Saks Fifth Avenue windows were elegantly decorated with a Snow White theme. Children screamed with joy or were crying as parents clutched small hands to walk the length of the building. Across the street the populace thickened to shoulder to shoulder standing room and then all of a sudden over a loud-speaker a circus ring master type voice received everyone to the show. Music chimed in and the entire Saks Fifth Avenue building lit up to form the shape of an enchanted castle. The castles tastefully colored lights flickered to music and songs.

A very impressive display that should not be missed! After the show we walked the exterior of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, more lines, lines, lines, the Atlas Statue, back to Rockefeller Plaza to view their shop windows and then off to hunt down a place to eat.

All restaurants were packed with standing lines. Our best option was to try to purchase a sandwich at Chik-fil-A. I never experienced this eatery and was so glad to have found the freshest chicken sandwich ever tasted. The service at the counter was cheerful, helpful and welcoming! Our day was winding down as we approached Madison Square Garden. Penn Station is located below the Garden and at this hour people were heading to a show, concert or home.

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The lobby was packed and with each intercom announcement the station became instantly empty and refilled again at breakneck speed. It was almost comical how fast this room filled up, emptied and refilled. Our train track number was announced and confirmed by viewing the computerized displays. People formed into swarms at the gate, passed two doors and quickly ran down the platform to find a seat. I watched as far as my eyes could see and noticed this train was not in short supply of double-decker cars to service any type of traveler.

New Years Day came and now vanished into the past. A new year arrived and of course one has to make plans. This year is going to be a transitional year and I welcome it with open arms.

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Autumn Ends, Winter Begins

Today I took a bicycle spin into the trail.  It was just after noon time and the sky was clear blue. The lighting was overwhelming even in the woods. Shadows cast everywhere, the light was very strange  and also experienced many moods for one day. I decided not to edit out any photos and you will find part one to be very different from part two. In a way the day captures become a study about light that I want to share.

Today my bicycle had a flat tire. It was a slow leak and not noticed until the end of the day at home. That tire did get a few years wear and allot of miles, so I really cannot complain. The next series of nature captures will be when it snows! I have allot of material to start creating, experimenting on the art-side.

Leaf-icious part two (video)

I incorporated captures not posted and or previously posted from this blog. The video shows highlights of the leaves and the music sets the scene.

Enjoy, part two of ‘Leaf-icious’

(click on the link or the photo to be directed to the video)

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I figured out the new way to post a video, lol

just past in the link! Duh!

Fall-icious part ten- A Rainy Day!

 

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The start of this week had absolutely gorgeous weather. For the past few weeks I was relentlessly blowing leaves to earn my keep. Lacey dog needed a flea bath because all that fun in the blowing leaves had a price for her to pay. For a mid November the air generally has been warm, some grasses maintained a vibrant green and bright yellow dandelions continued to bloom by the roadside. Mostly the colorful leaves have departed and bare naked trees stand waiting for winters first cover of heavy snowfall. At times boredom sank in while making a daily round by foot in the chilled rain but the bright red berries dotting the shoreline brought a smile .

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Red Berries at Lakeside

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The Trail by Cranberry Lake

At the local Cranberry Lake dock two husky men attempted to fish. One man wore a navy blue T-shirt with bold white lettering, advertising a trucking company. Luckily they both found employment at a trucking company, one has five children and told me that he was grateful to be working. “Years ago the economy was not that bad when I started my family but today there are mounting economic concerns,” he explained. His friend just grinned and nodded while continuing to spin a fishing line into the lake water. He diligently worked the line to gain a strategic position that would bring in a good catch. Hopefully on this rainy day the forlorn trucker will be able to provide enough fresh fish to feed his entire hungry family. I picked up my walking pace and decided to head over to the entrance of the Sussex Branch trail.

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The Sussex Branch Trail

Surprisingly my eyes could now search through the woods without any distraction of autumns plentiful foliage. A squirrel scurried up a fallen log and thrust its body onto a large tree. This year there were tons of acorns and walnuts for animals to have a huge feast. Undoubtedly, their tree lined nests must be overloaded with enough supplied nuts to last well into another season!

With heavy rainfall comes miniature seas of water and a huge black puddle crossed my path. Scaling the muddy side and looming over this newly created body of water with a duck umbrella in hand to take a few reflective photos was not an easy task. The rain drops created rippling ringlets for floating leaves to be tossed around like miniature boats. Fairies came to my mind as groups of colorful leaves could still be found against the wet wooded landscape. It was a contemplative day and I pondered about how one could edit most captures to create an imaginary land waiting to be discovered.

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Black Puddle

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Floating Boat Leaves

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Reflections in Black Puddle

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Trees Surging Upward

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A raindrop becomes a beacon of light!

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Foliage In The Woods

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Red Berries In The Woods

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Rain-drops adorn berries

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The Birch Tree in the Woods

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The Silent Woods I

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The Silent Woods II

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Golden Mystery

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Captured Leaves

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Forget Me Not I

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Forget Me Not II

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No Trespassing

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Fairy Dust Trail

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ColorWoods

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Fall Foliage In The Woods

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Green

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Pool of Water I

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Pool of Water II

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Pool of Water III

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The Dangling Brown Leaf

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Fairy Woods

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The Trail House

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Untouched

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Autumn Calling

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Swamp-side

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The Trail Continues

Fall-icous! part nine

It was sun-down, the dense woods quickly became very dark, still and quiet. Not a gray squirrel or native bird species could be heard rustling about the fragile dry fallen leaves. All the brown acorns, colorful red, blue berries were collected for a day. It was a time for animals to seek out home shelters that are lined into vine draped hollowed out trees and moss dressed fallen logs. There was an overwhelming sense of peace within the deep golden opulent light embracing the lake and brooks. I decided to venture off trail to seize another perspective of this vast serene lake. In order to avoid stepping on any small critters, I took meaningful steps through thickly lined ground cover and dense prickly bushed foliage. Suddenly as I turned around heading back to my Cannondale mountain bicycle there appeared out of no-where, a silver white-haired man. He was walking directly into my path. Was this an undercover man in black? Congressman? CEO? A conservation trail agent in disguise? It was quite inconvenient to see a well attired man in the woods. After-all, my trail-side dress consisted of wearing deceased dads muted green cotton canvas Trails End jacket, my hair tucked up under a bright woolen red beret and soiled black stretched bicycle pants. A total messy sight in the woods with a bicycle and a camera! He observed that I was taking pictures and communicated his surprise to see what the lake had to offer from another angle. With camera in hand this gentleman precisely point clicked at the lakeside. I failed to mention about any blood thirsty tics, fleas, snakes that could be encountered in a wooded environment. Perhaps people have to experience the finding of pricking seeded thorns in-bedded into clothing after ventures in the woods. It has to be a earned right of passage that an adventurer must endure. A process of acceptance by the trail-side woods. He did suggest that the lake must possess beautiful lighting at sunrise. I cited about the black bears and expressed my concerns to never venture alone at that time on a desolate trail. We had a brief conversation about trail conditions for bicycle riding and size of tires that works best for riding a rugged terrain. The conversation flowed into my earlier day-time discovery, a description about a woman who zipped along the trail but also stopped her travel to say hello. Fortunately, I was able to capture the tire! She had a groovy cool Trek mountain bicycle that had fitted super wide black rubberized tires to its specifically designed and re-engineered frame. After my inspection I found out that this generation of trail transportation was also light weight! It would also be a wonder to see a solar-powered mechanism attached to it! Now that would be a ride! The mysterious man and I parted, going our separate ways like we had found each other. I shouted out about where he could find my captures on the web and at LemonChronicle. Hey! You have to network everywhere and even in the woods at sun-down!

Fall-icious part eight

This past Sunday was too much fun on the trail. I discovered that trails are not only made for exploration of nature but of people too. Fall-icious includes the celebration of meeting life. Word is getting out that the Sussex Branch Trail, New Jersey is THE PLACE to locally absorb everything nature has to offer. (By the way I would like to make a shout out, if you can financially donate to this trail you can click here and make a much-needed donation at their website.) I noticed many hikers, bikers taking the time for pictures. The day was exceptionally crispy cool and sunny. Excellent shadows cast against the woods and reflecting detailed images, colors onto brooks. A wonderful setting for capturing natures seasonal change that is now quickly spiraling into winter. It was quite an unusual day! Nothing that I have ever experienced before but truly a delight! I parked the bicycle onto the side of the trail and found people to be much friendlier. One couple stumbled out of a heavily leafed debris trail and decided to take a breather. They explained to me the best time enjoyed on the trail happens when it snows. It is a winter wonderland experience with snow-capped trees bending over the trail. This couple also uses trail time to reconnect with each other. Further down the trail hikers could be heard coming towards my direction but these campers were not four-legged prancing albino deer. Two gorgeous white greyhounds, yes they were white and not grey!  The greyhounds were a bit camera-shy and very anxious to continue down the trail. During the course of this beautiful day a studious looking character that probably knew all the tree types allowed me to take a photo. A miniature collie, however, I was pleasantly corrected by its owner that this was no ordinary small collie but a Sheltie dog.  As I continued on my journey two darlings captivated my eye! Both were boldly strutting their stuff and very investigative about what adventure lay ahead on the trail. I could tell these pooches were loving every minute of the day too! The tiny Boston Terrier was bouncing around and flashing her stunning glittering diamond studded collar. A bit over dressed for the trail but her security Bull Dog was prepared to take care of any bear bandit lurking behind a tree or rock!

Who could forget sweet back packing Gracey!  A total prepper, ready for any disaster on the trail. Her owner said to be ready because Gracey is the type of dog that loves to lick.  And, she was beaming friendliness like my lick loving dog Lacey!

I took the time to ask the owners how they came about finding their perfect pet. And you will be pleased to know that the owners took the time to find a rescue group for that particular breed. My trail visit was indeed the perfect capture of a truly happy day! For those that can support a shelter, rescue group, please do it now! The following captures are just a few taken from today! There are still more Fall-icious captures to come! 🙂

Fall-icious part seven

Today, Saturday, the sky has cast a very gloomy gray color. There is a dense cloud cover with no sunlight to shimmer through the woods. What was once decorated with vibrant color is now a swamp preparing itself for winter. In a thick brush I could barely see a black bear swinging its head back and forth holding nose in air. As usual, it was trying to cross over a busy route. I did not stop and just yelled out “bear go back”. November weather is warm and the bears hesitate going into hibernation. Luckily there are still some wild berries and grapes. But the berries are drying out. And, it may be the reason for the bears to be hitting local garbage cans for food. This past week, the night before garbage pick up, overturned cans littered the street. In a few weeks if the weather continues to be warm there will be an adjustment to their food palate. Today I will stay off the trails. Over to the side of a parking lot, piled up by the wind were striking yellow and green leaves. Naturally bright and in need of no sunshine,  I just had to capture its beauty. Seedlings sheltered and nestled in-between golden-yellow, vibrant green leaves.

Surprisingly, my Fall-icious Collection keeps growing! Even though the season is winding down and the trees, foliage are becoming stark naked, patches of Autumn colors drapes the grounds.

And I still have previous weeks captures to post …

But in a few short weeks this will end. Sigh!  I may squeeze in another fall season at this location while working to construct a tiny house on wheels from found materials etc. The plan is to rent land and spend time at farms to gain more creative inspiration and applying it to canvas. It would be grand to erect a portable framed out canvas wall tent as an art studio. Living off grid will also include its daily tasks of collecting wood, gardening and maintaining a site. Overall, it will be a healthier lifestyle. It is a must to venture out seeking peace of mind and an alternate lifestyle when there is absolutely no sustainable employment in sight at cities, suburbs. It makes sense to make every day a Fall-icious day!