Winter Dog Days

Featured image
The anticipation. Photo: JH.

The first of March. Only three more weeks til Spring, no matter what the weather. Ordinarily in my life habits, this would be deep winter where you are wondering if Spring will ever come because of all that snow and ice and mush underfoot. 

Snowless winters are still odd to me. I didn’t miss them when I lived in California for all those years. Although I loved driving east on Santa Monica Boulevard where I could see the snowcapped San Gabriels in their midwinter purple distance.

But in my lifetime, as a kid from New England, this time of year meant snowtime. Not occasional flurries or blizzards, but a white winter. We still occasionally get some snow, but it’s a lot less. This year we’ve had next to none, and I miss it. Dark grey New England afternoons where it was cold and grey and white outside, and warm enough to be cozy inside, were inspiring to this kid’s optimism (which was then entirely my imagination). Also there was always ice skating at the rink down behind the high school.

Yesterday’s snow-turned-rain.

To change the subject that needs changing on this grey afternoon.

I found this quote awhile ago in one my Diary notes. I came upon it reading something about Bucky Fuller, a brilliant character in our cavalcade who always impressed me with his artful inventions and his artful way of thinking — which of course are one and the same.

He said/or wrote: “Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trimtab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. 

“So I said that the little individual can be a trimtab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, call me Trimtab.” – R. Buckminster Fuller.

In the same set of notes, I also found this quote. I don’t know who wrote it. It might possibly have been me since it’s not attributed. It might not, however. I say that because I like it, and share much of the same impressions.

“This is the era of the bully. It is visible at all strata of society. It has been enhanced by the technology, namely the cellphone and the communication called Text. Deep cowardice is built into the equation, a kind of helplessness, a nihilist’s pox on the heart. What a half century ago was looked upon as progress and prosperity is now emerging as a civilization out of control. This is not true of all of us but it appears to be true of many who hold positions of leadership and power on all levels everywhere. The bully is angry, beyond measure; and usually, almost entirely, mindless.”

And these …

“Who are we? Where did we come from, and where are we going?” — Paul Gauguin 

Baron and Baroness Guy de Rothschild at the Surrealist Ball, 1972.

“Barely 50 years have passed, and that world has toppled into oblivion.” These are the words of Guy de Rothschild recalling his youth (teenage years) circa 1935, writing in 1985, talking about the manners and mores of young males and females in relationship to each other.

“It’s better to feel remorse than regret.”

“How can one be an objective witness to oneself when one is but a tiny cog in a gigantic machine gone mad?”

And this was another “note”:

It was a very old photograph of a shabby looking clapboard house sitting by itself on top of a small hill with a roadpath below at its side. At the time this photograph was taken Edgar Allan Poe occupied the house. He was in his early 30s. The roadpath is now Broadway and 84th Street and the hill has been replaced by a vast apartment house put up a century after Poe’s departure. The house in which he lived was around the corner from where Jeff and Danielle first lived ten years ago, on West End and 85th.   

Poe’s house was known as the Brennan Homestead. Mount Tom in Riverside Park was where he got his inspiration for “The Raven.” He named the rock outcropping after the son of the family who owned the farm.

I love looking at neighborhoods in terms of their origin. It’s like watching history come alive.

Old Brennan Farmhouse in 1879. The staircase leads down to what is now 84th Street. Courtesy of the collection of the New York Historical Society.

Recent Posts