This was one of those magnificent spring days that is just about perfect, brilliantly sunny but cool. Were it in the fall, today would have been called "crisp", and we'd be dreading the freeze to come. But it's spring, and things can only get better even than this wonderful day. If you had things to do and places to be, out of the house, this was an ideal time to tend to them.
One of the things I needed to do out of the house was take this picture of wisteria on the wrought-iron fence that separates my front and side yards.
I decided yesterday I wanted to get pix of the Great Falls of the Passaic (River, that is; Newark's river) in Paterson, as part of an occasional series of posts about things to see a short hop from here. Newark is a great place in itself, but there are hosts of wonderful places within striking distance in all directions because of Newark's centrality. We are almost exactly at the center of Megalopolis, so there is of course a lot to see from the middle of a complex of 55 million people. A short ride west of the Northeast Corridor, however, and you're in wide open spaces, where nature obliterates all sense of being in one of the most populous regions of the entire planet.
Yes, that is part of New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the Union. Up on Garret Mountain above Paterson, you can see the cars on I-80 (out of frame of this picture; I have them in other pix), which look like tiny models on a Hotwheels track, and the buildings in Downtown Paterson, and all the way over to highrise apartment buildings in Fort Lee, but that's not what impresses. The gentle mountains passing into the distance connect you with the planet on which people and all their works are just the tiniest coating of dust. You can hear the traffic on I-80, but it's not so loud as to intrude upon a reverie. No, this is not the astonishing, consuming silence I heard, as for the first time, at the Grand Canyon, when I looked out over the abyss to the far side of that great emptiness, and heard NOTHING. But it's pretty serene nonetheless. Certainly the view is expansive, and it opens the soul.
I didn't get the urge to head to the Great Falls on our river until early afternoon yesterday, and realized that by the time I could get myself together and out to Paterson, the Falls would be mostly in shade, since they face east. I had been there once before, late in the day, and did not want to repeat that mistake. So I listened to the weather forecast and when I heard it would be sunny today, I forced myself to go to sleep early last nite. Several things that I needed to do before I left, expected and unexpected, delayed me. One tire needed reinflation by the compressor I bought from Auto Zone on Springfield Avenue, that plugs into the cigaret lighter of my car that would never be used were it not for refilling tires and recharging my cellphone. Still, I got underway in time to get to the Falls before the sun had moved too far behind them. I had to take the Parkway to get there quickly, but afterward I dead-reckoned my way home on local, more scenic roads. You may not appreciate how much you rely upon the sun to find your way around, but on a sunny day when you're trying to get from Paterson to Newark thru areas you don't know, it is an enormous aid to see the sun and know that if it's X o'clock, the sun is south/west.
The Parkway is one of the prettiest superhighways to be found anywhere (did you know that "freeway" originally referred only to freedom from cross-traffic and stop lites, not from tolls?), but it's still not really scenic in North Jersey. In 'my area' (that is, where I went to high school, Monmouth County) and farther south, taking the Parkway is indeed like driving thru a park, but that becomes a little dull after a while.
By the way, I am hostile to the recent reduction in speed limit to 55mph on a stretch of the Parkway that had a 65mph limit until a few weeks ago. The excuse, that the change is intended to save lives, is patently false. It seems actually to be intended to bring in revenue to the financially strapped State government thru speeding tickets handed out by the bushel basket. We could eliminate essentially all traffic deaths if we lowered the speed limit to 10 miles per hour, everywhere in New Jersey. If we care so deeply about saving lives, why not do that, and have zero traffic deaths?)
All in all, I traveled 40 miles and took 197 fotos (I must be stopped!) in Paterson (for the most part) and Newark. In lite of my experience the last time I had over 150 fotos to process thru my graffics program, I have adjusted downward the estimate as to how long it takes to fix a typical pic, from 4 minutes to more like 3. Still, I have almost 10 hours of foto-fixing ahead, and offer only samples today of what is to come. Tune in tomorrow (organ music swells) for the continuing story of Newark USA.
When I got back to Newark, I wanted to check out something Gaetano sent me a link to, a picture of the Lake in Branch Brook Park near the lions that showed a fountain in the middle of the lake. There was no such thing last year, so I wondered if this was new or the picture was very old. It's all new.
Fabulous but Fake. The foto of the lion and fountain above is as it came out intensified by my graffics program's auto settings. The next foto shows it as it turned out when I tried manually to make it look as it appeared to me. But what the scene actually looked like is somewhere between the two. I know that there is an expression, "The camera doesn't lie", but that expression is wrong.
Not Fake. I saw at least one, and possibly two herons today, in Newark. I zoomed in on this first from the near shore of the lake. The bird was on the far shore, and I think I must have gone into digital zoom, because the picture is not as clear as I'd expect it to be in optical zoom.
This next picture shows at once the smaller fountain (two were restored), at the southern end of the Park, and a heron on the far right (either a different one or the same, athletic heron that flew 2,000 feet or so to get there before I could walk there).
I had such a good day today that I taunted my sibs (in Texas, Nevada, and California) with some pix and this closing note:
I hope you all had a good day too, but how good could it be? You don't live in Newark, nor even New Jersey anymore.
Large fountain in the middle of the lake within Branch Brook Park near Cathedral, backlit by late sun, April 30, 2008.SO good a day did I have, indeed, that I waxed poetic — helped, I readily confess, by a little rum and Coke at the end of a strenuous day.
I fotograf what there is to see, but aspire to more, what I hope will be. So please indulge me now — in Whitmanesquerie. (I have been attacked in print for supposedly imitating rather than merely emulating Walt Whitman in one my few attempts at poetry — a work that someone else, not I, selected for a printed compilation — so I'll rest content in expressing myself, no matter what others may think (or feel):
O land of cherry bloom and brick built high,
O favored place in garden state,
Of heron, duck, squirrel, and jay,
Folk of skin so varied, fine,
At peace in Nature's deft attire.
This New Work, on beauteous Earth.
Our favored, blessèd Hope.
Our Promise to ourselves and all those yet to be: