March 1, 2008 at 9:56 AM
Leap year was entirely unnecessary, as the 29th contained every bit of nothing new at all.
Sometimes when I get that trapped, swallowed, February feeling, my dog takes me for a walk. He insists I need the fresh air, and I insist nothing fresh has been in the air since September. But since I hadn’t used my camera for far too long, I thought I’d at least make an effort at capturing this dreary spell we’ve had lately. After all, the scenery looks about as best as I could ever describe what it feels like. To be here. On leap year.
We haven’t had fresh snowfall for some time now. Without a clean slate, the existing stale snow continues to keep faithful record of recent weather patterns, bearing the nasty wind storms, the withering rain, and the following cold snaps with honest accuracy. Sand trucks splash on the pigments, plow trucks sculpt the structures, and the rest is left to time. The resulting compositions are somewhat astonishing, appearing as though deliberately devised by unseen hands. It’s not by my own hand, but by the outside forces, that we were both shaped into what we’ve become on this sullen, repetitious day.
Glad to find we are like minded, I linger amongst the grey and bitter textures. However, it's as I'm rounding the corner toward home that I spy them, and this is what reminds me that repetition can also be deeply beautiful:
Once is mundane. Twice is redundant. But thrice is profound.
Comets are indeed "dirty snowballs", but you wouldn't want to pick one up (even to throw at me) because, aside from the size, the "ices" that make up the "snow" in them are very cold ices of Ammonia (freezes at -107.9°) and (I believe) methane (freezes at -297 F), as well as water ice. Comets in general are lightly packed, and not dense like for example an asteroid. The "dirty" part comes from admixtures of silicates and other stuff you'd call dirt if you saw it here.
(Actually, if I lived in DC I would probably hide out in the Smithsonian and see how long I could live there before someone caught me. I've always wanted to do that, ever since I read From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, back in fourth grade.)
Ray, I'm trying hard to see him, but I can't. Is the shape in the glossy area, or the negative space?
Jim, they say Alaska is just one big comet whose orbit remotely associates it with the US. If you're lucky, you get to see it once every 76 years.
Alaskans are actually aliens. We don't body snatch or anything, and though many of us are armed, we come in peace.
I'm that much more thankful for space, now that I know I won't be awakened by a jackhammer sun in the morning because of it.
I've also thought about living in the museums, but they might hear me when I practice on the strads at the nat'l history museum! I do go on a regular basis to feel the moon rock at the Air and Space museum though...
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