I rode the M5 bus uptown

November 20, 2007

I took the M5 from LaGuardia Pl and Houston Street up to 140th and Broadway. On the way, I made friends with Prof. Leichman from Pratt. He was drawing, as was I. He told me that he had worked as an art director at an ad agency for 20 years and loved it. When his career ended, he went on to teach graphic design and drawing. He also did cartoons for the New York Times. He recommended a few different publications to look at related to art direction. I told him that I wanted to be an artist. He said, everyone does. I know. He liked that I wrote “I saw a man with a face the same color as his leather jacket.” He told me that the secret was to draw like that.

At 140th street, I ate marinated pork tacos with rice and beans before heading back out and getting on the M4 to go up to the Cloisters Museum. By the time I got there, the sun was setting and it was really windy. The Cloisters Museum has a collection of medieval art, but the best part is the museum itself and its gardens. Since it was really cold, I was the only one walking around the garden overlooking the Hudson. On the way back, I walked through the gardens and parks on the hill south of the museum. I wrote this:

Fall is my favorite season. The sun setting with cold, windy air on the cheeks and under the chin. Motion keeps us warm. The radiant light from the sky intensifies the matted hues of the landscape. They have different kinds of beauty. Things on the land are born, grow and then die. The cycling sky is not alive.

I see the grey blue water of the Hudson and the shadowed bank on the far side. The bright array of leafy colors are muted by the sun’s neglect. Two trees stand out to me, partially obstructing my view. Bright yellow leaves are fluttering in the sun, their color intensified so much that the dark brown bark of one’s trunk is now black, only a silhoutte. The small darkening leaves of another become blackened specks, highlighted by the translucent blue and vibrant salmon of the sunset behind it. The wind adds an amazing energy. Leaves seems to appear and disappear as they are barraged by its gusts.

Fall makes me bittersweet. Very much so. I think of death and of the beauty of the lives that are now ending or already over. The trees are cutting their losses by dropping their leaves. They die brilliantly.

When I was young, I wandered into the woods behind my house. There were leaves on the ground, bright clear air with a gusty sunset and hurrying squirrels. I buried myself in leaves inside a lean-to I made. I curled up there for an hour. I could see inside my house. The golden light in the kitchen got warmer as the sun set and the trees wooshed and creaked around me. I could feel my chest pulsing. I began to cry. I was so close to the land. I was connected to everything. The boundaries of my self opened and I expanded out in channels, meandering out in streams over an uneven, green field.

People get buried in the dirt when they die. Grass grows above them and worms, beetles and tree roots take advantage of their nutrients.

Drawings and Notes from the trip below. Click on the Thumbnail for a full-size image
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