31 December 2012

What The End Of This Year Means For Me

From Leica 1956.

In recent years, it's seemed that the ending of the year has more or less coincided with the beginning of winter.  There have been exceptions, of course, such as the winter-that-barely-was a year ago.  But in my recent memory, in this part of the world, the death of a year, if you will, has mirrored the death of so much else.

At least cycling has been a constant in most years.  One of the exceptions came three years ago, when I was recuperating from surgery.  But, in most winters, whatever cycling I'm able to do makes the weeks and months of barren, wizened trees and old people in old, sometimes frayed coats that have survived other seasons seem like people and things encountered on a journey rather than signals of death.

And although I did no Grand Tours or any other monumental rides, I am happy and thankful for the cycling I have done.  For reasons I haven't discussed, and won't discuss, on this blog (After all, they''re not reasons why you come to this blog!), the past year has been difficult for me.  Some might say that I was coming down, finally, from the euphoria I experienced after making a change I'd wanted for as long as I can remember.  Maybe they're right.  But cycling has not merely masked the pain or discontent I've felt; it has always helped me to see that conditions such as those are (or, at least, need) not be permanent.

So has keeping this blog.  That makes sense when you realize that writing has been, along with cycling, one of the enduring passions of my life.  The fact that I continue to do both shows me the necessity of living in the moment as well as the foolishness of living for it, or of believing that every moment will be an extension of the present, or even the past.  So, while I know that I have been in better physical condition--and that I have written things that some people would say are better than anything I've written on this blog, or during the past year, as long as I keep on pedaling and writing, I know that there can be change.  I take that back: There will always be change. What riding and writing show me is that One kind of change or another (save, perhaps, for getting older) is not inevitable; while I may not ever regain the form I had in my youth, I can always improve my conditioning and, perhaps, do different kinds of riding from what I did in those days.  I may not conquer mountains again because I may not need to.  But there will always be a journey, and all I can do is to keep on pedaling and writing, and do whatever goes along with them.

N.B.:  Check out Leica 1956, where I found the photo I've included in this post.

30 December 2012

Past, Passing Or Passage?

I don't know what, if anything, this has to do with cycling, or anything else.  But it's taking up a few of my brain cells, so I thought I'd mention it here.

I'm going to show you two photos.  Does either or neither, or do both, express anything that 2012 has meant to you--or that you anticipate for 2013?

29 December 2012

What Happens On Painters Hill

I got home from Florida very late last night.   Once I set myself down on my couch, Max and Marley wouldn't let me back up!

They wanted to hear about Florida.  I assured them that although I met a couple of friendly and cute felines in the Sunshine State, none could compare to them.  But Mom's cooking and the bike riding were really good.

I mean, how could it not be in a place called Painters Hill?  That's one of the places my last ride of this year's holiday visit took me.  Though it was chilly, the sky--and the sea--were as blue as could be.  Nobody was swimming or surfing, but I saw quite a few people (yes, including a couple of women) fishing.  

Well, maybe these fishermen are a little difficult to see.  After all, men often go fishing so that others--namely, their wives, children and girlfriends--won't find them!  On the other hand, this fisher is making no attempt to hide, but is doing quite nicely:

Since this winsome avian creature is not running away from anything, Santa sees fit to leave a reward:

I've no idea of how that got, or what it's doing, there.  Let's hope that there's no rule saying that whatever happens on Painters Hill stays on Painters Hill.  Well, at least for most things, anyway:

26 December 2012

Christmas In Florida: The Unexpected And The Familiar

Where I am now--about halfway between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach--is not what comes to most people's minds when you mention "Florida."  Although some of the flora and fauna--at least the ones found here now--are similar to what's found further south, the climate is different.  Frost covered lawns on the first morning of my trip here; the next day was like one in May in the New York area.

And, contrary to what you might have heard, there are seasons here, though they are not as pronounced as the ones that rule the north.  There are no maples and oaks that blaze orange, red and yellow before burning into ashen shades.  Instead, you are more likely to see something like this:

And it's likely to be found in this sort of landscape:

With backdrops like those, houses festooned with lights and other decorations seem incongruous, and sometimes even disconcerting.  To me, some of the most attractively decorated houses actually look best in daylight:

Here is a view of the right side of that house:

At least the end of the day--the holiday, anyway--ends with something familiar and welcome:

and other rewards:

I shared the eggplant lasagna, stuffed mushrooms, meat sauce, salad, cheesecake and cookies with people I love. After all, even after a Christmas Day bike ride, I couldn't eat everything all by myself!

25 December 2012

Along The Coast, Again

Every ride along a seashore seems to begin with a descent from a bridge:

And, of course, the descent from this particular bridge is a sure sign that I'm in Florida--Flagler Beach, to be exact.

At the foot of the bridge, I took a right and cycled south along Florida A-1A, which shadows the dunes, palm trees and beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.  Every time I ride it, I see more cyclists.  I guess that's not surprising when I realize that A-1A has long been a favorite of motorcycle riders.

Just 36 hours after an early-morning frost, the temperature had climbed over 70F (21C).  So, I had the sort of company I wouldn't normally have on the day before Chrismas in New York:

At leasst one of his flock wasn't going to let him steal all available human attention:

Although the main reason (actually, nearly the only reason) I come to Florida is to visit my parents, I am very happy to spend this holiday here this year.  For the first time in nearly two months, I was able to cycle to the ocean without seeing sand, twisted metal and broken concrete pillars where there had been, days earlier, a boardwalk.  It was also the first time since Hurricane Sandy struck that I was able to see dunes that hadn't been eroded or leveled by surges of wind and surf, or shell-shocked people left in their wake. 

Sandy, and the Nor'easter that followed it only a week later, ravaged the coastal areas I know best. Perhaps they are not the most beautiful, but they will always mean the most to me and, for that reason, the destruction I have seen has been heartbreaking.  Also, that sort of devastation "wasn't supposed to happen" along the coasts of Long Island, the Rockaways, Coney Island and New Jersey:  Sandy was a "once in a century" storm, and having such a storm followed so closely by another was unprecedented.  

So, it was ironic, to say the least, that I would have to go to a shoreline that's less familiar (though not completely unfamiliar) to experience the sort of ride that I usually take as a local escape.  What's even more strange, though, is that nearly everything I recall from previous rides along this stretch of Florida's Atlantic coast is as I remember it from previous rides--and that few places in the world experience more hurricanes and tropical storms (or, for that matter, tornadoes) than the so-called Sunshine State!  

23 December 2012

A Clarification In The Sunshine State

No, I didn't disappear in a cloud of smoke or get swallowed up by fissures in the earth.  I survived the 21st, the day the world was supposed to end.

The reason I haven't posted in a couple of days is that the end of the semester was more hectic than usual:  More work was crammed into it because of the classes that were cancelled during Superstorm Sandy and the Nor'easter that followed it by a week.  Then, I had to get ready for my Big Trip.

I'm in a place with a name that begins with "F".  No, it's not France.  And it's not Fiji.  That leaves....where else?  Florida.

Yes, I'm here, visiting Mom and Dad for the holiday.  I arrived last night:  The plane skirted the coast and descended, it seemed, with the sun. Twilight was turning to darkness as I disembarked and my parents met me in the airport.

I know I normally employ manner of cheap, sleazy writers' tricks.  But I did no such thing in my previous paragraph.  I meant it to be a literal statement, without metaphors or "deeper" or "hidden" meanings!

Anyway, today I rode the borrowed beach cruiser I've ridden on previous trips here:

If you've seen some of my earlier posts about this bike, you may have noticed some differences in this photo.

For one thing, I've installed a seatpost rack.  I picked it up at a yard sale for 50 cents.  I didn't need it for my own bikes, so off to Florida it went.


And there's the handlebar bag.  Really, it's just a nylon box with some kind of stiffener on the inside, at the rear, and webbing on the outside.  It looks rather well-made, and would probably work better with some sort of support or rack.  But I don't think there are very many things that would fit this bike without doing considerable violence to the handlebars or rack. (Actually, that's just a way of saying I'm too lazy to do the work and too cheap to buy another part!)

Anway..a stop at a service station brought me into contact with this bike and its friendly owner. 

As I was taking the photo, a burly guy with a droopy mustache and bandana chatted me up.  He said he's never ridden a bicycle in his life, but if he did, he'd want to ride "one like yours."  Although I tried to explain that the blue Raleigh is faster, higher-performance (and, for long rides, more comfortable), he insisted he "doesn't understand" why a bike made for men is built with a horizontal top bar.  "You know, if we stop short and land on that bar, it could cause all kinds of damage."

At that moment, I was trying very hard not to laugh and to reveal too much about myself. Of course, I knew exactly what he was talking about, and why his fears were unfounded.  But I said that, indeed, some men ride "women's" or mixte bikes, and that I had bought one of mine (Vera) the man who was its original owner. 

He touched his chin (something I hadn't expected from him) and said, "That's nice to know.  I'm glad you explained it."

"No problem.  I hope you have nice holiday."

Thank you, Miss.  Perhaps we'll meet again."

20 December 2012

Gary For Christmas

Are you looking for a holiday gift to give a cyclist?

Does he or she have to haul a bike up several flights of stairs to an apartment or workplace?  Or, must he or she hoist his or her steed onto lofts, car racks and other high places?

Or maybe your cycling friend rides into places that can't be ridden and must port his or her bike to more tire-friendly ground.  Perhaps he or she is a cyclo-cross racer.

Well, here's something your cycling friend might appreciate:

It looks simple enough:  a carved strip of wood and a couple of nylon bands.    It bridges the seat and down tubes above the bottom bracket:

It allows you to pick up your bike this way:

While the wood has a natural finish, the bands are available in yellow, marine blue, gray, black or white.  Whatever the color, each of these bike porters--called the "Gary"-- is made by hand by a fellow named Renaud in France.  They're sold by Wood'Insane Design, based in Parempuyre, near Bordeaux.

If I didn't live in a ground-floor apartment, I might try one!

19 December 2012

Annie Londonderry: Pedaling And Peddling Around The World

As a teenager, I looked forward to Bicycling! magazine every month.  Aside from learning about bikes and equipment I wouldn't encounter and couldn't afford, I learned that people did all sorts of things on, and with, their bicycles that I never imagined.  In fact, I think the people who did those things didn't imagine them, either, until they undertook them.

One such person was John Rakowski, who rode his bicycle around the world and wrote a series of articles (journal entries, really) for the magazine. As much as I admired him, I would soon learn that he wasn't the first to accomplish the feat:  Thomas Stevens did it eight decades earlier.  Seven years after he completed his journey, Annie Kopchovsky would make a similar voyage.

Well, sort of.  I'll get to that soon.  Ms. Kopchovsky was born in Latvia, but her family emigrated to Boston when she was a child.  At 18, she married Max Kopchovsky, a peddler.    Within four years they had three children.

Much of what comes after that is a matter of debate.  Kopchovsky said that her ride was the result of a bet two wealthy Bostonian men made:  One asserted that women could do whatever men could, and his friend took the bait.  They agreed on a wager that a woman could ride around the world in 15 months(!) and earn $5000 along the way.  Nobody is sure why she felt compelled to take up the challenge as she, up to that point, had never been on a bicycle. However, she, like many other young women of her time, were inspired by Susan B. Anthony's assertion that the bicycle had done more to emancipate women than anything else.

So, on 27 June 1894, she hopped her 42-pound Columbia women's bike (Well, it was lighter than my Collegiate, I think!) dressed in the long skirt, corset and high collar of that time and waved goodbye to her husband and children as she set off down Beacon Street.  From there, she rode to New York.  Before she took off, the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company (rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?)  offered her $100.  In return, she would display their placard on her bike and adopt the nom de velo Anne Londonderry.

From New York, she pedaled west, arriving in Chicago in just under three months after she left Boston.   Along the way, she lost 20 pounds.  In the Windy City, she realized that she would need to make some changes.  First of all, she realizing her bike was too heavy, she switched to a Sterling men's model with one gear and no brakes.  It weighed tipped the scales at half of the Columbia's weight.  Second, she realized she would never be able to ride that bike in her attire.  So, at first, she wore bloomers, and eventually changed to a men's riding suit.

She'd planned to ride west, but the impending winter made her change direction.  She rode back to New York and set sail for Le Havre, France, where she arrived in early December.  Her bike was impounded, her money was stolen and the French press declared her too muscular to be a woman, assigning her to the category of "neutered beings."  Somehow she turned things around and, in spite of bad weather, made it from Paris to Marseilles in two weeks via bike and train.  

In Marseilles, she boarded the steamship "Sydney".  Her itinerary included all sorts of exotic ports of call.  To prove she'd been to those places, she got the signature of the United States Consul in each location.  

She returned to the US in San Francisco on 23 March 1895.  From there, she rode south to Los Angeles, then east through Arizona and New Mexico to El Paso. From there, she  turned north and rode to Denver, then Cheyenne, where she hopped on a train that took her to Nebraska.  She then hopped back on her bike to Chicago, arriving on 12 September.  Then she took the train back to Boston, arriving on 24 September, 15 months after she left.

As you might expect, some accused her of traveling more with her bike than on it.  Most people didn't seem to mind, though:  She was a tireless self-promoter who, while in France and Asia, told tales of being a medical student, the neice of a US Congressman, a lawyer, an inventor of a new method of stenography and an orphan.  Plus, she sold commemorative photographs, silk handkerchiefs, souvenir pins and autographs.  Upon returning to the US, she told tales of hunting with German royalty in India and nearly being killed by "Asiatics" who thought she was an evil spirit. She even insisted that she was involved in the Sino-Japanese War of 1895. On the front lines, she'd fallen through a frozen river and ended up in a Japanese prison with a bullet would in her shoulder.  Or so she said.

But, hey, if she biked even half as much as she told stories, she rode a lot.  And her pedaling brought her family more money, through sponsorships, her own entrepreneurship and articles she wrote, than her husband's peddling ever could have provided!

18 December 2012

Not In The Forecast

After yesterday's rain, it was nice to commute under clear skies.  However, a rainstorm that wasn't in the forecast drenched the campus this afternoon.  And I hadn't covered the Brooks saddle on Vera!

When I finally got outside, the rain had stopped. 

I hope this is a good omen for Vera's saddle--and a lot of other things!  Does catching only the tail-end of a rainbow count?

17 December 2012

Lightweight With A Straight Face

In my post "Beauty Among The Ruins", you may have noticed a bike I haven't previously mentioned or shown on this blog.

It's a 1966 Schwinn Collegiate.  So what was it doing in that post?

You guessed it--I now own the bike.

This bike comes with a Bendix coaster brake.  Now, if you know anything about Schwinns from that period, you'd know that is unusual.

You see, Collegiates came as three-speeds (with a Sturmey Archer hub) or five-speeds (with a Schwinn-approved rear derailleur, which was a rebadged Huret Allvit).  In 1966, nearly all derailleur-equipped bicycles came with downtube shifters.  That is the reason for the boss on the downtube--which can be used only with Huret shifters.

At some point, someone turned it into a single-speed.  Interestingly, the wheel is what would have been stock on the Schwinn Breeze, which was, in essence, a Collegiate with a single-speed coaster brake.

It even has the chainguard!  And, in those days, Schwinn welded on fittings for accessories like chainguards--as well as cable guides (which are found on this bike), shifter bosses--and kickstands!

The bike is a tank.  I'd forgotten how heavy these Schwinn "lightweight"  models were.  Even at that time, I still don't understand how Schwinn could have called this--or almost any bike in their lineup save for the Paramount or Superior--"lightweight" with a straight face.  This Collegiate must weigh at least twice as much as my heaviest Mercian!

But I think I'm going to keep it for local errands or as a loaner. I'm probably going to put a basket on it.  And I'll definitely change the seat: It's something I'd never ride, and it's not the original, or anything like it.

I didn't pay much for it.  And, if you've been reading this blog, you know the answer to this question:  Would I turn down a bike with a color like that?

It's a bit small for me. But at least there was enough seat post to get something like a fit.  If I keep those bars (the originals), I might go for a stem with a longer extension.  And I'll need to change the tires:  The current ones are dry and cracking.  But I don't want to change much else: This bike is made to take a beating.  And, although I don't intend to do a perfect 1966-style restoration on it, I don't plan on turning it into a Frankenbike, either.

16 December 2012

Color For Today

Some rainy days are cheerful, with raindrops pattering against leaves and windows, and  a soft hiss rising from the plume of a spinning wheel.

Today has not been such a day.  It's just been dreary:  The rain simply drones on, and even though houses are festooned with holiday decoration, somehow there seems to be scarcely a hint of light.

So, I though I might cheer you (and myself) up by offering some color.  This can be seen just a few blocks from my apartment:

The owners of the house have put on an impressive display every year I've been in this neighborhood.  Here's  one side of the display:

Some things in it have been constant, like this lovely young lady:

And then there are the concessions to the times:

Tosca simply can't get enough:

After that, we did the ride I described yesterday and, from the Jersey City waterfront, watched daylight giving way to twilight and the lights of the New York Skyline:

15 December 2012

A New Randall's Island Bridge For Cyclists?

Today I took a ride to New Jersey, along the Palisades and through Jersey City, Bayonne and Staten Island. From the Island, I took the ferry to Manhattan and cycled up to the 59th Street Bridge, and home.

I've done this ride any number of times before.  However, along the way, I took a little detour on Randall's Island.  

Earlier this year, I'd read that the city planned to build a pedestrian/bicycle bridge from the Island to the Bronx.  Right now, it's possible to use the walkways on the Triborough (RFK) Bridge.  That's exactly what I did today. However, those walkways have their own perils for cyclists.

The Triborough is really three spans that lead into Randall's Island.  One such span, which is close to where I live, connects Queens with the Island.  This span is the most-photographed (for good reason) of the three, and many people think it is the Triborough.  Then there are spans from the Island to Manhattan (at 125th Street) and the Bronx.  

Actually, the Bronx spur is bookended by walkways on its east and west sides.  As those paths approach the Island, they zig and zag like Alpine slalom courses enclosed by concrete walls.  Then they converge at a single steep ramp that ends abruptly at a curve in the island's main road.

The bridge would eliminate those ramps (as well as the stairs one must ascend in order to access the walkway to and from Queens) and instead would be continuation of one spur of the island's mostly-complete bike path.

I am eager to see the bridge completed, not only for making a part of my ride more pleasant.   It is seen as a vital link between the paths and fields of Randall's Island and a greenway that's supposed to be built in the South Bronx. 

 Some residents of that neighborhood walk across the Triborough, but many more drive or take buses to play soccer, softball and other sports and games, have picnics and barbecues, or to fish, on the Island.  In addition to making a bike ride easier and more pleasant for folks like me, I would hope that the bridge would also entice some Bronx residents to walk or ride bikes to the Island.

The South Bronx part of Asthma Alley.  Actually, it's the buckle in New York's asthma belt: The neighborhood's 10451,10453, 10454, 10455 and 10474 ZIP codes have the highest juvenile asthma rates in the United States.  (They are also part of the nation's poorest Congressional District.) Obesity rates are also high in the area, as they are through much of the Bronx.  Ironically, even though much of the fresh produce sold in the NY Metro area goes to the Hunts Point Food Market (located in the heart of the South Bronx), most residents of the surrounding neighborhoods cannot buy fresh fruits or vegetables in their own communities.

Anyway, enough about subjects about which I don't know much (apart from having written an article about the asthma rates).  I am hoping that the new bridge's construction proceeds quickly but safely.  But I have to wonder whether that will happen after seeing the  sign on the left.

It says that Con Ed, the local utility, is removing duct work from underneath the scaffolding. I hope this doesn't delay construction!

14 December 2012

Panzo Race, BMX Backflip And Other Bike Games

I'm not much of a game-player.  I think I've played computer games maybe twice in my life.  The only games about which I ever became passionate were chess and Scrabble.  I haven't played either in years.

Still, I was fascinated to learn of the existence of bicycle games.  Someone sent me this link to She Games, which has a bunch you can play for free.  One of the cuter ones is the Panzo Bike Race.

And then there's "BMX Backflip":

Get Adobe Flash Player
Play Free Games Online at Shegame.com

It reminded me of one of my youthful mishaps (though I was, arguably, not quite youthful when it happened): the one and only BMX backflip I ever performed.  What made it a mishap was that it was completely unintentional.  

I was riding the trails (and off the trails--ssh! Don't tell anybody!) of Forest Park when I came to a mound from which pubescent boys launched themselves into flips and spills.  I rode up--the wrong way, on the steeper side-- with the momentum I'd built up from a descent. 

The next thing I knew, my bike turned into the Cyclone without the tracks.  My bike looped through the air so quickly that I didn't have time to find out how it felt, or to be scared--even when I returned to earth.

I landed on my head, and my bike did a backflip on the ground.  I felt that blank numbness you feel when you're in shock and everything seems to stop.  But, oddly, I felt no pain--and wouldn't feel any--even though I fell so hard that my helmet broke in half!

Somehow I don't envision anything like that resulting from playing a bike game.  

13 December 2012

Susan B. Anthony On Cycling

"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance."

Those words were uttered by none other than Susan B. Anthony.  What she said was not at all hyperbolic:  bicycling almost single-handedly brought women's clothing from the 19th to the 20th Centuries.  

In this illustration from an 1895 issue of Punch magazine, the young woman on the left is wearing the then-new "bicycle suit."  The woman on the right, in contrast, is wearing the ankle-length skirt and bodice that were more typical of women's attire until that time.  

I wonder whether the woman in the "bicycle suit" is wearing some sort of girdle or other torture device to cinch her waist. Looking at the woman on the right, and knowing about the fashions of the time, I would guess that she had a corset underneath her outfit.  By the end of the decade, that undergarment would become as outmoded as seamed stockings would later become.  As women were released from the bondage of whalebone, their skirts got shorter and, sometimes, morped into the then-shocking "bloomers", which resembled, more than anything, old-style Turkish trousers.

Even Susan B. Anthony herself probably didn't realize how true her comment was.  Even during the "dark ages" of cycling in the US, women wore clothing that allowed much greater freedom of movement than what their grandmothers donned.  So, by the time the "bike boom" of the 1970's came along, it was that much easier for us to ride--and to work 18-hour days.

12 December 2012

Into The Cold

In my youth--and well beyond--I cycled in shorts in all but the coldest of weather.  I can even recall riding in January with nothing covering my calves or knees.  It seems--in memory, at least--that those winters were actually colder than the ones I've experienced in recent years.

Over the past few years, I haven't cycled in shorts past November.  That, in spite of the fact that the past few falls and winters have been milder than usual. (Last winter was one only in name.)  In addition, I find myself wearing long sleeves or an additional layer when I wouldn't have needed them in years past.

I'll admit that since Sandy, I haven't done nearly as much cycling as I did before.  (Sandy was part of the reason; the rest has to do with other things I've been doing.)  So, perhaps, my circulation isn't what it was early in the fall.  On the other hand, others have suggested that it may have to do with being north of 50, or my hormonal changes.  Remember, back in the day I was full of testosterone (among other things!); now I have no more than a typical woman has and, of course, I have continued to take the estrogen I was taking before my surgery.  

From Active

Long before I started my transition, I noticed that women felt cold more often than men, and men were more likely to feel heat.  And, after taking estrogen (and a testosterone blocker) for some time, I started to notice that I felt cold more often than I did before starting my treatments.

So, I have to wonder whether my changes, aging or something else is affecting my sensitivity to the cold.  Maybe I'll end up as a subject of someone's research.  Could that be my contribution to posterity? :-[

11 December 2012

Doing Their Good Deed Daily?

Previously, I've mentioned that The Bowery Boys is one of my favorite non-bike blogs.  Now I'm going to introduce you to another:  Old Picture of the Day.

Like Bowery Boys and Nikon Sniper (another favorite), OPD is not normally bike-related.  However, today's photo featured two Boy Scouts giving rides to girls.  The question is:  To whom do those bikes belong?

As you've probably noticed, those bikes have girls'/female frames.  Now, we've all seen guys on girls' bikes:  Come on, admit it, all of you guys have ridden your wife's, girlfriend's, sister's or mother's--or some other woman's--bike.  Maybe you didn't know whose bike it was.  That's OK. ;-)  Or, maybe you even owned the bike.  That's OK, too.  At one point of my life, I was commuting on women's bikes because they were completely out of fashion, so they weren't being stolen as much as men's bikes were.

But how likely is it that both of those Boy Scouts owned girls' bikes?

Were they riding men's bikes, I would have guessed that those boys were following the Scout pledge:  Do A Good Deed Daily.  However, if those bikes belonged to the girls, I would have to wonder whether they "picked up" those Boy Scouts.  From what I understand, that would have gone against the gender norms of 1937, when that photo was taken.  

And it looks like the Scouts' troop is standing in the background, off to the left in the photo.  Could it be that those girls went up to that troop and picked the two boys they thought were the cutest?  Now that would be a real breach of gender norms of that time!

Or do you think there's some other story behind the photo?

10 December 2012

Beauty Among The Ruins

OK, boys and girls, I'm going to give you one more kind-of-sad (or, at least, melancholy) posting.  Then I'll try to stick to happy topics, as this is the holiday season.

Anyway, six weeks after Hurricane Sandy, it seems that I see more and more of its aftermath everywhere I turn--especially when I get on a bike.  Here is what used to be nicknamed "Barretto Beach":

This postage stamp-sized piece of Barretto Point Park has sunbathers and picknickers on it when the weather is warm, and people fishing from it at other times.  It's usually full of sand and is clear of rocks and other debris, if not litter.  And, before the storm, this plot was about twice the size it is now.

It is closed off.  So is the pier at the other end of the park, and the barge that houses a swimming pool.  As much devastation as I saw, I was surprised, frankly, not to see more.  

Here is another part of the park that was eroded:

I guess the '60's Schwinn Collegiate didn't want me to look at it for too long.  You never know what kind of effect such things can have on a young sensibility like mine, you know.

At least Randall's Island, through which I ride to get to Barretto, didn't seem quite as badly damaged--or, at least, more of it has been fixed up.  Here is a shot of one of the island's native plant gardens:

I found the color change on this tree particularly interesting:

Usually, I assume that trees with needles rather than leaves are evergreens.  Apparently, this is some sort of deciduous tree with needles.  Whatever it is, I love the effect of its color change.

Well...I guess this wasn't such a depressing post after all!