Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Lower East Side, October 2006

The stenciled bee, as well as the “323,” are common graffiti. You may remember the “323” tag from this photo.

I remember being hot when I took this photo last fall. It’s hard to imagine now, with the frigid wind burning my face every time I step outside.

Here, as in much of the country, the cold has been especially dramatic the last few days. I can wear three or four layers beneath my coat and I’m still chilled by the time I get to my office in the morning.

And even there, in a heated room, the cold is with me. Outside my office window are two or three wooden water tanks, standing on the roofs of nearby buildings. These perpetually leaky tanks have formed huge stalactites of ice, and periodically through the day, a dagger will break off and fall five or six stories to a lower rooftop. I’ll be working at my computer and hearing those thunderous, shattering sounds. Kind of surreal.

As miserable as it is, I like the cold in some ways. The sky is crystal clear, the air thin. Everything seems purified. And its sheer, bitter intensity demands attention -- when you’re outside, your mind can’t wander. You’re with the cold every step of the way, breathing it in, warming it, exhaling clouds like a dragon.

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