Sunday, February 12, 2006

Above Water

I feel a certain disconnected joy when I'm in transit miles above the earth. A blissful detachment. And traveling alone compounds it: I am responsible for no one and nothing. I surrender myself utterly to the pilot. I am beyond reach.

And if I have, as I did Thursday, a window seat and a clear day, all the better. Factor in the camera ? I was in heaven. The world, so far below, became otherworly. Even if Manhatten island retained its semiotic, cartographic familiarity, distance and light transformed it to a dark city with a silver halo.

A town like a mandala.

A neighborhood densely embroidered with houses. A sandy tract like a taut cloth where more will be stitched.

Coast. The dynamic interface of sea and land. Perpetual revision.

Two fragile human spans.

What was that strange underwater fold ? An unexpected speck shows up in the photo. I enlarge it. The pixels unpack, bloom. It's a person in a rowboat.

I landed, then ascended again into my parents' wintertime seaside eyrie.

I looked down off the balcony. Fifteen flights up. I felt the usual frisson of vertigo, and backed away. What if... and I could...

The imagination -- envisioning, willing -- can be a terrible thing.

I put the camera down. There was a 35mm lens on my digital Nikon, practically equivalent to a film camera's 50mm "normal lens." It's the focal length that most approximates the field of view of the human eye. It had been a long day. A long, vertical day.

Tomorrow, proposed my Dad, we'd visit a botanical garden.

I'd bring my macro lens. That would balance things out.

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