Best Yet To Come
By Robert Beck
My normal time for getting up in the morning is six o’clock, although it varies based on several factors, most of them occurring the night before. Six is roughly the time we slip into or out of darkness at either end of summer. Whether it’s light when I get up determines what the season is to me, so according to Bob’s Rules, we were Post-Summer since the first week of September.
You can’t go by the calendar. Seasons arrive and leave when they want, sometimes staying longer than expected or stopping back for one last goodbye. It’s technically Fall now, but more like Pre-Autumn. Pre-Autumn is that pause at the top of the diving board before the colorful splash of Real Autumn (autumnus bona fidus), followed by the morning-after, empty glasses and dirty ashtrays of bare-branched Post-Autumn (autumnus glumnus). Good luck figuring out when any of that will happen with our new climate reality. Once the leaves are past peak, the dark realization sets in that all the good weather is gone and the party’s over (known as Puffycoat Syndrome).
But this is a great time of year. Seasonal relief floods my veins as I walk along Amsterdam. Kids are back in school. The sun has lost its sharp edge. I don’t have that hot-out-here, cold-in-there agitation as I pass the restaurants and stores. Things smell better, somewhat. And there is a sense of equalization and ease that won’t be spoiled until the first signs of Christmas.
The sounds are the same—the car horns, the helicopters, ear-splitting sirens, the occasional psychotic provocateur—but missing are the families from Battle Creek and Aberdeen, oblivious to the codes of city movement, searching vainly for street numbers, suffering from visual overload. Now is an excellent time to go to a museum.
You still must be careful; the sense of well-being can be dangerously seductive. I watched a woman on a CityBike with headphones and big sunglasses, wearing no helmet (but a lovely, flowered dress), zip through the intersection against the light at 70th, checking her texts, confident in her control, enjoying her Audrey Hepburn day, oblivious to the fact that it only takes encountering one other person like herself. But of course, there is no one like her.
New York will never be that lovely vacation town you went to where everybody waved, but this time of year almost makes you want to smile at people. You can take a deep breath and approximate a stroll. Dust off the felt fedora. Pretty soon, there will be leaves to shuffle through.
See more of Robert Beck’s work and his UWS studio by visiting www.robertbeck.net And let Robert know if you have a connection to an archetypal UWS place or event that would make a good West Side Canvas subject. Thanks!
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