Sunday, December 31, 2017

Snow Covered Benches Along Riverside Drive

A walk in the midst of a snowstorm is a magical experience. Big fluffy flakes (the best kind) muffle the relentless sounds of the city and soften some of the sharp edges. The first flakes bring out the patterns of the paving and highlight features like benches, doors and wrought iron gates. Not quite monochromatic, subtle yet dramatic, gray skies above but everything getting whiter by the minute. Best of all, if you are a visitor, you don't have to shovel the snow.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Shrine, Madonna and Child

A small portable shrine sits in a glass case in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, not far from where crowds gather to admire the museum’s famous Christmas tree. Carved from wood in about 1300, it was probably a commission for a wealthy German noble. Meant to represent the miracle of the Incarnation, the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus open up to reveal what had originally been all parts of the Trinity. Only God the Father remains, but the painted "wings" still tell the story of the Nativity in colors as bright as when the shrine was made. As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, I am thankful that small miracles of craftsmanship like this have survived to remind us of why we celebrate that day.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Flower Power At Bergdorf's

For 2017, Bergdorf Goodman's holiday windows are a salute to various museums and sites of interest. This one, featuring the New York Botanic Gardens seems to time travel back to the Swinging Sixties.  The gardening books are created from fabric and embroidered with titles in fonts that are straight out of Fillmore East posters. Where have we seen those models? Perhaps in a 1968 fashion spread for the London fashion company Biba.  Excuse me while I go listen to my copy of "Sgt Pepper."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Light Show, Saks Fifth Avenue

The holiday windows make New York City an alluring destination in December. But the most spectacular sight is the light show that plays out every few minutes on the facade of Saks. This year's version is my favorite so far. A clock ticks down then the turrets and gates of a castle appear. Colors wash over the turrets, fountains splash up and the aurora borealis moves across the "sky."  Thousands of people can watch from Rockefeller Center right across the street. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, nearly everyone stops to turn their faces upward, oohing and aahing. It's a communal experience full of the joy and wonder that we all hope to find during this season.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Dockless Bikes, Washington, DC

A man hurrying to an appointment slowed his pace and looked at the candy-colored bicycles parked on the sidewalk near 13th and G streets. The bright colors might have made him wonder if a trio of ten-year-olds had gone around the corner to pick up a package Twizzlers and a Superman comic book. Bikeshare racks are a familiar site all around town but the new dockless bicycles are still something of a novelty. Meant to be used mainly for short trips, anyone who is signed up for the service can key in a code then pedal off. They can be left in any public place. No searching for a docking rack. If all this takes off, Washington may eventually look a little more like Oxford or Amsterdam.