Friday, February 23, 2007

L’Heure Bleu at Spuytin Duyvil

The water of the river looks like the sky above the Palisades, only wrinkled. Venus hovers. The wires are doing their dips. The Henry Hudson Bridge passes over with an elegant arch and accessible architecture; its task of bridging the island to the mainland is so self-evident, unlike, say, the Throg’s Neck, which seems to sweep out over water and land indiscriminately, an aimless, wandering bridge. It lacked focus growing up and they always said it would never amount to much. Not the Henry Hudson. Stolid, steely, blue, a single arch with a flat, straight road above. “Where you goin’?” “Right over there.”

Under it, and we turn north.

In Of Human Bondage, the protagonist has a revelation near the end of the book, right before he becomes impossibly old and dull for his age, in which he realizes that to not be an artist is allowed. That his life will weave of itself an intricate tapestry, unique among all others — that the pursuit of art will not make a more beautiful life than will being a country doctor. It’s sort of a guidebook for entering middle age, but, from the vantage point of early middle age, it rings true. It was not long after reading it that I began to chronicle my daily subway commute. Often I described the train floor in some detail.

Despite the first paragraph of this post (and other recent content), Exurbitude is not intended to be a commuter’s diary. The motto is Observation and Exploration; it’s just that work is busy, time is short, and the commute is what’s left over. So this week I’m leaning more toward observation.

In the spirit of exploration, however, let me offer a couple of tidbits from beyond the rails. 1) This morning as we passed south of Peekskill, I saw a bald eagle squatting way out on the ice. I hope I never stop being amazed by them. 2) Chimpanzees have been observed using wooden spears to hunt. Oh. Good. 3) A beaver has taken up residence in the Bronx River — the first beaver seen in New York City since Disney took over Times Square the early 1800s.


Anonymous said...

"Despite the first paragraph of this post (and other recent content), Exurbitude is not intended to be a commuter’s diary."

Good. Your powers of observation and explanation are wasted if the focus is solely on your commute. There's a big world out there, and -- time and other resource restraints notwithstanding -- you should make sure to go observe, explore and 'splain it. Happy hunting.

Bill Braine said...

Will do. Please send funds.