Sunday, March 29, 2009

Metro Station

The other day, I was standing on the platform waiting for a train when a Metro employee scolded someone who had just taken a flash picture of the station. We are now in the High Season for tourists, with the cherry blossoms at their peak. Many visitors are experiencing riding our subway (or perhaps any subway) for the first time. They see a subway photo as a nice souvenir. I can understand the overly-cautious mindset that leads Metro officials to see picture-snapping as an opportunity for information-gathering by those with destructive motives. But that moment made me think of stories from the old Soviet Union, when tourists would have their film confiscated because of something "sensitive" that might have ended up in the background of an innocently-made snapshot. So here is the Metro as I see it. The great arch of the vaulted ceiling is coffered, like the Pantheon. The light is dim, draining away much of the color. So I chose to take this picture in black and white. Nobody stopped me when I set my camera on the floor and let the timer trigger the shutter. My only motive is to share a grand, elegant and under-appreciated space that those of us in the Washington area use but forget to really see.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


The early daffodils are blooming on the west side of the house. Although some late varieties are still only green buds waiting for warmer days, we already have a crowd of hardy characters in shades of cream and butter, bright orange and deep sunshiny yellow. They nod their heads in the still-chilly wind. The sun makes them look as beautiful as stained glass. I love to look at them closely. The crinkly, ruffled trumpets and smooth petals become an almost abstract composition. Best of all, this is only one of the first flowers. Spring and summer lay ahead.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Green Palms

Saint Patrick's Day is next week. Green sweaters, green beer, giant metallic shamrocks in store windows. All these thoughts of green are welcome right now on this fine edge between winter and spring, when we are ready for green grass and the sight of buds on trees. Here is my contribution to the green thoughts. Palms, stiff as fan blades, sunshine turning the edges into bright yellow lines. They that lead us out of the picture in every possible direction. Out to search for and find more green.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Crocus Blossoms

Last week's snowstorm buried the emerging leaves of the early spring bulbs. Now the snow has melted. Clusters of yellow and lavender crocus are starting to open. They are hardy optimists, reminding us that winter is almost over. These simple little flowers are Spring personified. I see a small miracle in the porcelain-teacup delicacy of the petals and the way the shadow of the stamens forms a perfect silhouette.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Magnetic Shoes

Visitors like souvenirs. Postcards, snow globes, magnets, T shirts. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower is the image of choice. In New York, it’s the Statue of Liberty. In Amsterdam it's tulips, wooden shoes, and windmills. The Bloemenmarkt is full of them, piled on tables and clustered on metal display boards. Most of these touristy trinkets are made from plastic in some other country. Plastic wooden shoes. My new favorite oxymoron. No matter how insignificant the item, if you gather enough of them, it looks impressive. There is compositional strength in mass. Line up or repeat one color, and suddenly you have created a sense of order within this mass. Your eye follows it. Even if it is only a gathering of magnets shaped like wooden shoes.