This was a sight, descending the steps to the courtyard of Latimer Hall, that was once everyday and pedantic to me. Now, the sight of it is a powerfully nostalgic mix of strange perspectives and a dozen mishmashed textures and patterns: tiles and bricks and precast and cast-in-place and trees and bushes. In the long run, that red-green-and-gray color scheme means a lot more to me than I thought it did.
Having recently finished the fantastic Bioshock Infinite, I’ve had images of early-twentieth-century American exceptionalism floating through my brain. No matter what you think of the (sometimes questionable) policy decisions based on such a policy, the iconography is undeniably seductive. Neoclassical design features and waving flags on a crisp Sunday afternoon! Though this moment on St. Lawrence’s campus might not be literally of that time, the spirit of it was overwhelming.
I had an up-close-and-personal, early-morning meeting with this particular cheetah in Zulu Nyala. (She wears a radio tracking collar so that vets can care for her and her offspring.) Staring into the face of evolution’s high-velocity interceptor on a rainy morning is a more effective wake-up than 100 cups of coffee.
Through the long North Country winter (my favorite theme, of late), there are few activities more fun than bombing along empty back roads in my Mini. Camera on the seat next to me, tripod in the back, and gnarly snow tires beneath me. Adventure and strangeness and exploration: there’s always another road I’ve never before ventured down. In this photograph, I capture the experience: crusty Mini, open field, and the beginning of a lovely sunset.
The whole 2013 shebang came to an end in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the way back from safari. Stuck with a long layover and nothing better to do than absorb the last photons of this trip around the Sun, I looked up at the flare-clouds and stewed in the alien environment of an airport on the other side of the world. The flight home was almost 17 hours long, and took place in sync with the rotation of the Earth, such that we spent the entire time at night. In the darkened cabin, we passed from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day, 2013 to 2014, six or seven times. Stuck between continents, between years, between moments, the warm final spectral fuzz of the Sun lingered in my brainspace.
After a (relatively) warm weekend, the North Country is set to be entombed once again in winter. Though we’ve been promised by the false weather prophets that this cold spell won’t match the ferocity of January’s efforts, I can’t help but think back to mornings of almost unreal atmospheric thermal energy. On the edge of St. Lawrence’s campus, the sky was clear and the sun rose and cars puttered to work as though everything was normal.
For all of the anecdotal (and statistical) dangers on the road in South Africa, people spend a lot of time there. (Really, you could say the same of the chief transportation modes in any part of the world.) Whether it’s walking, hitchhiking (lots of hitchhiking), or hanging out in the back of an invincible Toyota, people get to where they have to be.