New York in 1911

Some extraordinarily well-preserved film footage shot of New York city in 1911.

 

 

The most striking thing is that the broad avenues and boulevards are filled with pedestrians. This is not one of those rare festival days when they shut down the streets for people to use – this is normal, every day. The streets were made for walking. Horse carts, cars, and trolleys all share the road. All move at a walking pace, which is why it works.

Also, the windows of the skyscrapers are open. There is no air conditioning in 1911. People live in apartments on the upper floors, with the windows thrown open to the breeze and the sky.

But umbrellas have not changed in over 100 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brush Creek Yachts ~ Concentric Circles and Paradoxes

Doug, his son Ben, and Marvin Spencer, with the new Marsh Cat “Magpie”

 

(This is a post started last August; am just getting back to it.)

It will take nearly four hours of driving to get there, to get where the boat is, a boat built by hand in the loft of an old barn. We head out at sunrise while there’s still dew on the grass.

We don’t go east toward the coast, though, where most boats and builders of them live. Instead, we turn and go the other direction – to the southwest into the mountains. Instead of the land of crabs and oysters and skipjacks, we’re going deep into coal and bluegrass and moonshine country.

After 200 miles of driving we’ll still be in Virginia, though just barely. From south of Fries it’s just 10 miles as the crow flies to the Carolina line, and 20 to Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. This is where Marvin Spencer, proprietor and master craftsman of Brush Creek Yachts, lives and builds boats.

 

Buffalo Mountain

 

 

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Winter Harbor ~ Blind Woman in a Snow Storm

 

7 Down: Where Leonardo da Vinci is buried.

Oh yes, I know that one. Leonardo da Vinci is buried in the chapel at Amboise. A chateau in the Loire.

How did you know that, without even reading a New Yorker?

I always remember, because it reminds me of the night I met that charming blind woman in the middle of a snow storm.

Was that when you were in France?

No, not in France. In Fluvanna County. I was house sitting for a friend at Christmas. A big snow storm came through. I let the dog out before bed, and it did not return. I got into her four wheel drive car to go looking for him. Down the road, I suddenly came upon a woman wading through the snow. She was wearing Long Johns and a sort of antique broach.

Excuse me, ma’am, but can I give you a ride?

Oh please, I hope you can help. (She looked a little sideways as she talked. I thought from the glare of the headlights, but realized she was blind.) My husband has rearranged the whole library, and we can’t find the one book to settle this argument. Do you happen to know where Leonardo da Vinci is buried?

Strangely enough, I knew the answer. When I studied painting in Paris, I was invited to visit the Loire Valley where a chapel was built around his tomb. A beautiful chapel.

Why yes, in fact I do. He’s buried at the Chateau d’Amboise, in the Loire Valley.

Oh thank god. Will you please take me back down the road and tell my husband? He will not sleep until we know. Oh, and we have your dog. He’s been quite well-behaved. Hasn’t peed or nothin.

 

Overheard after dinner conversation.

 

Winter Harbor ~ The Island, East

view from the porch

 

The house faces east. Sunrise comes up over the water, shines into half the bedroom windows; sunset shines in the others. In between, a daylong performance of color and light.

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Winter Harbor ~ The Island, South

out the inlet

 

After coffee, I head out to the beach and turn right.

There is only one house on the island. There is no one else here.

Walking south. Here, too, trees hang on with impressive resilience. Roots fully exposed, awash at high tide. Nevertheless, they persist.

 

 

 

 

 

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Winter Harbor ~ The Island, North

 

It’s early, and T is sleeping in for the first time in months. After coffee, I leave by the screen door, wade fifty steps through soft sand to the Bay and turn left.

There is only one house on the island. There is no one else here.

The island is two miles long, most of that north of the house. But it is very, very narrow. For most of its length, so narrow you can stand in the marsh and throw a stone across to hit the Bay. More than a sandbar, but to call it a barrier island perhaps exaggerates. There are trees, many of them quite old, but dunes throughout are flattened by overwash from Bay to marsh. It’s clear that water often flows through the trees. No barrier; more like a split rail fence.

The place is raw and wild. Animal tracks everywhere – birds of all kinds, but also otter, fox, raccoon and muskrat. And terrapins. With no one to disturb them, the tracks persist between rains. We find many skeletons. Like the undisturbed tracks, bones remain in place, composed where each creature took a last step.

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Winter Harbor ~ The Island that Isn’t

south end of the island, the original inlet, house and dock

 

The island has no official name. It has not been an island long enough to get one. Perhaps a budget office calculates it isn’t worth updating maps and charts, that it may not be an island for long. Even for locals it has no name. They simply refer to it as “the island.”

Not quite here, not quite not.

While most islands in the Chesapeake are disappearing – Smith, Tangier, and Hoopers; others like Holland already gone – new islands do appear, created by the same forces. That’s how this island came to be, about 40 years ago.

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