I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday geometries

Another scaffolding, this one uninhabited, on Central Park West.

I love the pickup-sticks quality of the beams and their shadows. I don't think I ever paid much attention to scaffolding until I'd been to the Far East a couple of times and seen dozens of men pounding hammers in unison perched on scaffoldings built of lashed together bamboo. It all looked so flimsy it was hard not to cringe against inevitable disaster.

These scaffoldings look much sturdier to me, as long as I don't have to climb them.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Welcome to the working week

I never cease to be amazed at the people -- men, mostly -- who can work on scaffolding high above the street without clinging to the wall and whimpering for mommy.

I took this picture from across the street, so it's not obvious how high up the men were --  on around the fourth floor, if I recall correctly -- and they're basically just standing on some boards laid across what doesn't look like terribly sturdy scaffolding. No railing, no safety harness, and they seem so nonchalant. My knees are wobbling just looking at the picture.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday bird blogging

I took so many pictures of finches when I was in the Bay Area last year that it only seems fair to show one of their East Coast relatives. This is a house finch in Central Park, and one of the first pictures that came out really well after I started to make a serious effort to learn what I was doing when photographing birds.

And then of course, it was also the last good picture for a while. Life is always one step forward, two steps back.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday reflections

I've always been a voyeur, always loved peeking in windows and imagining the lives of the inhabitants. As a child I loved the winter dark, because the long bus rides home from church on Sunday evenings or home from school after some late activity were a chance to peer at lighted windows and catch a little glimpse of the lives behind them. I think I thought of them as a kind of life-size dollhouse at first, and later they scared me a little because I realized that I didn't know any of those people and they didn't know me -- life, and lives, that had absolutely nothing to do with me.

Now I live surrounded by the towers of windows that make up Manhattan, and work in an office building surrounded by other office buildings, windows looking out on more windows.

It's obvious that I'm fascinated by the reflections they create, but I especially love when the reflection is an overlay and you can still see something of the room behind the window -- the hanging plant in the picture above, for example, or the water tower reflected next to the staircase and corporate art in the picture to the left.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday bird blogging

You're probably thinking, "I know this one! We had this one a couple of weeks ago. Nuthatch, right?"

Good guess, and thank you for playing! But no, this is definitely not a nuthatch; this is a brown creeper, and I've known how to tell them apart for at least three or four weeks now.

One thing you learn very quickly if you're crazy enough to develop an interest in birds is that just because the shape, size and behavior are practically identical does not mean the birds are the same, or even related, as any time spent leafing through the very long section of any field guide devoted to the thousand or so species of New World sparrow will tell you. (I personally can identify five of them. And really, I think that's quite enough.)

Unlike nuthatches, creeper coloring is designed to blend in with the tree trunks where they hang out, so sometimes you don't even realize they're there until they start to move.

(Late posting today, but the sun didn't come out until this afternoon and I didn't see any reason why I should be productive until then.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday reflections

The reflection of a billboard on Seventh Avenue turns the most mundane of office windows into something surreal and a little spooky.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday bird blogging

Africa is definitely going to win any global competition for Bird Names that Sound Like Someone Just Made Them Up; after all, they have the spotted thick-knee and the go-away bird, not to mention the ever popular chestnut-vented tit-babbler.

In the spirit of competition, then, may I offer -- the yellow-bellied sapsucker! This is one of the few funny bird names that I knew long before I ever looked with interest on a bird, so it was a little disappointing to find that they're basically -- woodpeckers. And that their bellies are about as yellow as a red-bellied woodpecker's is red, which is to say, Not very.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring has sprung

And bonus bird blogging.

I know it's only Saturday, but since standard time ends tonight and the light will finally start matching the weather, it seemed only appropriate to share this robin I saw in Central Park this morning.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It's not nice to fool Mother Nature

Especially since she is apparently as gullible as the rest of us.

I dragged myself to the park this morning, even though the weather has taken a turn to what the forecasters like to call "seasonal," gray, chilly, and much too dark to get any decent pictures of birds.

The flowers remain stubbornly unseasonal. A week ago there were green shoots and scattered snowdrops; now daffodils and crocuses are everywhere, oddly bright on a dull day when it was too cold to stop and admire them.

Sunday bird blogging

Here's the mate of last week's cardinal.

The females in the avian world never get as much attention with their drabber plumage, but I think female cardinals are beautiful, with the orange accents against the brown. Not as showy, maybe, but also not as silly as their male counterparts sometimes appear.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday abstract

I never get tired of taking pictures of water. On the one hand, there's not much to it -- some swirls in blue and green and black. On the other, it's always different, always abstract.

This is the Atlantic, sailing out of Lisbon. There was no sun, so the surface of the water has an odd, almost matte texture that I find strange and beautiful.

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