holiday time on Strong Island

By Jim Stanford on December 29, 2007

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the late December sun descends over Roosevelt Field, NY

You may have noticed that posts have been, um, sparse on these pages in recent weeks. Well, it’s the holidays, and there are a lot better things you could be doing than trolling the Internet: partying, writing letters, traveling, exchanging gifts, praying.

And if you live in Jackson Hole, Wyo., well, there’s been a lot of great powder skiing.

I managed a quick, pre-Christmas visit to New York to visit my family on Long Island and catch up with old friends in Manhattan. Between coming and going, shopping and packing, celebrating there and celebrating here, I’ve been neglecting this site.

For me, taking a break from blogging is like eddying out in a kayak; sometimes it takes a lot of effort to get back in the stream. The longer I wait, the more the current keeps on rushing by, and I have to paddle hard and marshal up considerable gumption to break the eddy line of inertia. So, consider this a thrust into the current again.

Who says Long Island isn’t beautiful? I shot this photo on a magnificent Friday afternoon on the edge of a strip mall not far from my mom’s house. We like to think of the West as “big sky” country, but on Long Island, because it’s so flat, you can see clear from one horizon to the next. The mid-December light at northern latitudes is magical in the late afternoon, intensified in this case by air pollution toward the city.

This is the view looking east, and the office building seemingly ablaze sits on the edge of Roosevelt Field, where Charles Lindbergh took off on his landmark transatlantic flight, today the site of one of the busiest shopping malls in New York. A sliver of crescent moon shone overhead, while a torrent of traffic whizzed past.

I doubt many of the people in cars noticed the scene, too caught up in hurrying, buying, driving everywhere, even short distances. Hardly anyone walks along the mini-highway I was strolling, the “Old Country” Road. It may have been a country lane in F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s day. There is a bagel shop in the strip mall that I like to walk to and pick up a fresh-baked onion bagel and newspaper each day.

Old Country Road, busy thoroughfare of Long Island

It’s intense going back to New York, where I was born and grew up. Flipping through an old photo album with my mom one day was like opening a door to the past, gazing at the faces of long-lost relatives I never met but whose genetics and experiences have shaped who I am.

What vivid weather we had: invigorating cold, howling winds, mists, rain, crunchy ice underfoot. The leaves did not fall off the trees this year until after Thanksgiving. Add that to the long list of recent global climate anomalies.

As much as I like seeing everyone and sampling the treats of the city, I don’t have to be there long before I feel like I don’t belong. It’s always a relief to come home.

While I was in New York, the Mitchell report on steroids in baseball was released, and I saw Neil Young perform at the United Palace Theater. I’ll have more to write about each of these as I struggle to return to the present tense.


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