Sunday, December 27, 2009

Angels and Snowflakes

In December, giant snowflakes cover the facade of Sak's Fifth Avenue, which is directly across from Rockefeller Center. Every fifteen minutes or so, the snowflakes come to life, blinking on and off in time to music, performing a syncopated dance. For a few minutes, the snowflakes lure the crowd's attention away from the skating rink with its gigantic sparkling tree. I like to park myself halfway in between, in the midst of the rows of trumpeting angels, looking back at the dancing snowflakes. Even the longtime residents of New York stop for a minute, turning their faces up into the frosty night air, knowing that all this holiday magic will disappear on January 2.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Technicolor Angel

Architectural details are one of my weaknesses. Patterned brickwork, leaded glass windows and interesting door handles will stop me every time. I'm especially fond of the inhabitants of older buildings: fat cherubs, old men, young nymphs, satyrs and "green men" sprouting leaves instead of hair and beards. This lady hovers over a street in Paris. I think the flourishes on each side of her look like wings. In real life she is a normal stone color. One afternoon while playing around with the "Adjust Tint or Hue" settings, I forgot to start with the original and instead worked over an already-tinted image. This fantastic Christmas-colored angel appeared. Merry Christmas to all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Letter To Santa

This year the holiday windows at Macy's tell a story of how children's letters get to Santa Claus. They are charming and imaginative. But one smaller window disturbed me a bit. I watched a grandmother help her granddaughters use a touch screen to send a "virtual letter" to Santa. I hope that children will continue to have the experience of writing on paper with an actual pencil or pen, making crisp creases in the paper so it fits the envelope, then carefully addressing the envelope. By the way, what is the zip code for the North Pole? There is something about tasting the glue as you lick and seal the envelope, and choosing the stamp (can't lick those any more...) It's harder now to find an actual mailbox, where the metal lid makes a satisfying clang after the letter drops in. Will children wonder whether Santa got their email the same way we wondered if the letter got to the North Pole? I really am not a Luddite, but we live so much of our lives in a virtual world. I hope that such a tactile memory can still be a part of a child's life.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bergdorf's Polar Bear

If I could visit Manhattan only once in my life, I would come in December. Walking through midtown at dusk, the gray big-city grittiness of daytime fades away, replaced by a neon-lit sense of glamor. The holidays amplify this fantasy. My favorite store windows are always those of Bergdorf Goodman. Each one is a perfect, intelligently-dreamed-up conceit, a balance of beauty, elegance, wit and humor. This year, one window's arctic landscape shows two regal polar bears and a woman who has chosen fashion over warmth. The bears' heads are made from beads and sequins. Their fur is....white rayon fringe! Yards and yards and yards of it. Genius!