As anyone who lives on the East Coast knows, we are experiencing an unbelievable cold “snap” and this is the coldest Valentine’s Day in 100 years. As I write this blog, it has since warmed up to 15 degrees from this mornings 4 degrees with a wind chill of minus 15. But, this blog is about yesterday, which was just as cold as today.
I left the apartment mid Saturday morning bundled up in several layers of fleece, wool and down and was actually sweating as I walked up Ditmars Boulevard to Astoria Park. My goal on this beautiful but, freaking cold day was to photograph ice along the East River, I figured there had to be ice forming along the water and clinging to the rocks in these frigid conditions. I was wrong, there was not a single crystal of ice anywhere along the river front. So, having already climbed down to the store line I focused my mind and lens on the “beach” made up of thousands of tiny green, white, and brown pieces of glass. These pieces of broken glass, smoothed by the elements, are from years of people throwing beer and soda bottles over the railing, even though there are garbage cans right next to the rails.
Anyway, I got creative and used the rocks and gnarly tree branches as frames for the river scenery. Notwithstanding the cold temperatures, the river was busy with marine traffic and I became fixated on a tug boat further up the river trying to turn around an enormous container ship. I scrambled up the rocks to the embankment and as soon as I was up above ground, as it were, I was hit by a gust of wind that nearly knocked me into the river. This wind was relentless, thank God for in camera stabilization as it was getting impossible to hold the camera steady. I darted behind trees and braced myself against them and at one point I was actually hugging a tree, the wind was that fierce; what passing motorists thought I was doing, I can’t imagine. Against the gale force winds, I continue my walk up the river to photograph that ship. The wind was so powerful and cold that I could feel it slice through all the layers of clothing right down to my ribs, I could barely feel nor bend my fingers which were also encased in layers.
Eventually, mother nature and her “wicked step-winds” won and I crossed the street at the corner of 19th Avenue and Shore Boulevard and stood there for a few minutes letting the sun thaw me out. When I could feel some warmth in my fingers I walked back up toward Ditmars Boulevard, with all the intentions of heading home. But, since I was feeling a bit warmer and the wind was no longer buffeting me around like autumn leaves, I decided to go into Astoria Park and play under the cathedral arches of the Hellgate Bridge. The nasty old wind couldn’t get me there, ha ha ha!
I was still feeling a bit down, not having found any ice to photograph and being chased away by the wind and all, when as I was walking backward photographing one of the arches, I tripped and fell. Sitting there momentarily stunned I looked between my feet at what tripped me and there was a big chunk of ice! In fact there were great shards of pointy ice all around me. At first I thought they were glass as the underside of the Hell Gate Bridge is also a party place for the “children of the night,” and there is always an abundance of broken glass.
A better look and I realized these were remains of a very large icicle which no doubt came from the arches above me. I quickly stood up and looked up to make sure there weren’t other icicles ready to skewer me. These pieces of frozen water were beautiful though, smooth cold sculptures that shimmered and became transparent in the sunlight. I walked under a few more of the arches and found more broken icicles. Yes!!!! I found my ice! Joyfully, I began taking photos of the ice. I laid down on my stomach to capture the sun’s light through the frozen crystals that resembled ice cubes, daggers and jelly fish sitting on a barren land of dirt and dried grass.
Oddly enough, mixed among the dirt, rocks, grass, ice, and glass were rotting fruit. I found two decaying pomegranates, a fungus covered orange in a highball glass and a sliced orange curled up like a bright dead bug.
Ah, just another a winter’s day in Astoria Park.