Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Most Dramatic Welcome

Ever since I lost my Elph, I've been trying my hand at phone photography to fill that spontaneous poloroidesque snapshot role that my SLR can't handle because it's too bulky or not convenient enough. This shot was taken while I was stuck in traffic in Newark,

This is a special moment for the blog: the first time I'm venturing into the City after setting up shop in Virginia. In a way, it's what we've all been waiting for: the CountryMouse gets his turn in the City.

I just got here and need to digest a little bit before I can say how it feels to be back (maybe it's the huge pork burrito I just inhaled?). The return trip was certainly momentous, beautiful and precipitous.

If I had very jumbled feelings about returning to the City that Never Sleeps, it was nothing compared to what was happening in the stratosphere.

Instead of the typical I-95 route, I prefer whenever possible to drive up I-81 through the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley to I-84 through Pennsylvania Dutch country. It's just as fast (if not faster) and so beautiful as to make the trip itself almost a pleasure.


Anyway, it was a perfect summer day with that golden light falling softly over blue mountains, green forests, and tan fields of wheat and mature corn. All the way up, there were huge mounds of storm-bearing clouds to my right, the East, as I traveled North. When I turned East just past Harrisburg, I was exposed to a full-frontal view of a spectacular meteorological show. Those huge anvil clouds let loose in front of me with tons of lightning and black skies beneath the towering thunderheads. Never on me, mind you, always in front of me. It was like a show (or demonstration) set up specifically for me.

As I crossed the Lehigh River and then the Delaware, the most amazing and huge rainbow opened in front of me and stayed there for almost two hours, all the way into New York.

I-84 in New Jersey was a scene of post-apocalyptic destruction. An interstate strewn with huge trees and underpasses so badly flooded I was grateful for the gas-guzzling (but 4WD capable) vehicle I drive. I found out later that tornadoes had passed through.

Nearly out of gas from the traffic, I had to take a short detour into Newark, where I heard the quote of the day,

Man #1: “Muy Humido!”

Man #2: “Yeah, soon its gonna start to stink like Hell.”

Now I'm back in Williamsburg and the air is sultry with clothes clinging to bodies, suggestion in the air like the honeysuckle and wild rose smell back in Central Virginia. So it's not all bad.

That's why summer is my favorite time of year. I love the sweaty bodies and not needing (or wanting) to wear much. I like the long days, the dramatic weather, and the languorous erosion of the membrane that separates us from the Natural World and from one another. Not a complete dissolution-just a little bit closer and more connected.

A Shout Out to you, the Readers

Because there are so few comments on the blog, I had assumed that no one is reading it. Turns out, au contraire!!! I've been getting lots of feedback lately through other channels: Facebook, emails, even phone calls thanking me or commenting on something I've written. It means a lot to me to know that there are others relating to what I'm writing. THANK YOU!!!

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