"You are what you notice, maybe." - Dana Spiotta
I wake up to Churchill pawing a hole in my perfectly taut window plastic which I'd proudly installed the day before. Yelling at him wakes me up sufficiently, so I slip on my glasses and gaze out the window. I see a lavender-mauve light bathing the church at the end of the alley, as well as the top third of the ornate Italianate house Victor saved from the wrecking ball. The warm feelings normally reserved for old friends seep back into me.
Just after a random moment of panic about too openly sharing my love life on the internet, I'm captivated by color, form and shadows. Mother nature interacting with human design might be one of my favorite things to experience- probably because it reminds me that the architects, street planners and others were intentional with their choices. They set out to build a church at a terminated vista, at an angle such that on Sunday mornings, light coming through the rose window would produce a rapturous experience for those inside. Their stained glass artisans had worked so painstakingly to produce that window, I can appreciate the desire to show off a bit. What they also show off is their knowledge of European trends in architecture and form and the intimate ways that the French or English might use an alley. The way we use a space informs its structure, or at least it should.
Mother nature seems to prefer entropy, though she can be spectacular.
The sunlight on the church's brick facade brightens and flattens, becoming both more and less informative. Isn't a nuanced whisper always better than a plainly spoken sentence at full volume? The cobalt shadows of the branches, light poles and garbage totes convince me that Hopper might have deleted some.
I am reminded of the delicate but sure pencil lines of William Sidney Wicks when he took his Grand Tour of Europe, dutifully reproducing the details of hundreds of wedding-cake buildings in graphite. The eye still is the best photographer. As he grew into his architecture practice with Edward Brodhead Green, they must have had a conversation about their respect for the traditions and proportions of Classicism, and this focused their efforts. Corinthian columns, deep porticoes and elegantly balanced window mullions echo America's echoing obsession with all things orderly and harmonious.
Another neighbor walks through the alley, their dog outfitted for the snow that fell over the last two surprising March days. They seem blissfully unaware of the rhythm and movement of garage roofs, with the dance of cars passing on the distant avenue.
But from my garret, these containers of human life- which will inevitably spill forth in the coming spring - could not be more beautiful as when the sunlight hits them just so.