Sunday, January 24, 2016
Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland
Jean, poor thing, is stuck in Los Angeles since her flight back to New York was canceled due to inclement weather, and sent this Instagram to elicit everyone's sympathy.
Valerie is reporting from New York on said inclement weather, also known as the city's second biggest snowfall since records were first kept in the 19th century. (The first, for doubters of climate change, was in 2006. And yes, we were here for that one, too.)
Even in the dead of night, the city was lit up by the reflection of light off the snow.
The city and state governments advised everyone to stay off the streets. Cars were strongly discouraged, so snowplows could keep up with the snowfall. Subways that ran in the open (not just underground) were stopped altogether to prevent accidents arising from snow on the third rails. We had all been told beforehand to stock up on food, since supermarkets and restaurants would almost certainly be closed for lack of staff.
In the morning, as snow was still falling, I went out briefly to experience the snow. Miraculously the local deli was open. I asked the cashier if she'd had difficulty getting in. Not too much, she said, but she would probably stay at the deli all night. For the sheer pleasure of it, I sat down on a snow bank in the street. How often does one get to have a leisurely sit-down smack in the middle of a New York street? After a few more photos, I went back indoors. On the radio, I heard that museums had closed at 3pm.
Nothing lasts forever, and pristine snow disappears faster than most disappearing things. Here is a shot of the same street taken 24 hours later.
The radio said that all public transportation would run as close to normally as possible. The temperature had risen and the sun was blazing. I thought it would be fun to see what people were wearing on the day after the storm, so off I went to Fifth Avenue. Snow and slush were everywhere. Snow plows had concentrated on clearing all the major avenues, less so on the side streets. All streets were lined with 1-3 foot snow banks created by the plows. There was no crossing in the middle of the street. Pathways had been worn at the corners, but the corners are also the locations of the sewer entrances, so many corners were submerged under inches of melting snow. It was a day for great big boots and little tiny steps (so as not to go aslippin' and aslidin').
I'd barely gotten to Fifth Avenue when Robbie Quinn stopped me and asked to take my picture. Quick thinking (for once!) I said okay, if he would take one with my camera. The opening shot is Robbie's.
People at the Museum of Modern Art are often handsomely dressed, so I stopped there to see who was wearing what. But West 53rd Street is now a canyon whose tall buildings make it impenetrable by sunlight. Fifth Avenue was bathed in sun, but the entrance to MOMA was cold and dark. I took a picture of the snow-covered Miro in the Sculpture Garden and left.
The more I walked around, the more my interest shifted and broadened.
How often does one see a well dressed woman on Fifth Avenue with a full sized shovel for an accessory?
A block away, snow had accumulated on the display windows at Louis Vuitton, and turned to ice.
Another of the hazards of walking the street was dodging falling shards of ice and snow. I was almost hit on half a dozen occasions. Across the street from Louis Vuitton, Tiffany had taken a proactive stance and cordoned off part of the sidewalk to force the collected snow down in a controlled manner. From Tiffany's, I traveled uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wondering if I'd see some interesting fashion statements there.
On my way, I saw hordes of people in Central Park. In front of the museum, which usually has individual artists' stands, instead I saw a huge snowdrift. A father watched as his kids variously sledded down the drift and tunneled into it.
Technology is allowing us to have lightweight coats with slim silhouettes that still retain warmth. This man, coming down the great front steps at the Metropolitan, is wearing one of those coats. What I really liked, though, was the way he matched it up with his thickly striped scarf with his thinly striped knit cap.
And people weren't the only ones dressed for the weather.
Despite wearing rubber boots up to my knees, every now and then bits of snow fell into them. I made the mistake of not wearing socks, so these down booties really resonated with me. (But shouldn't they be black? Not because everyone in New York wears black. Because... y'know... I mean... Is your floor always sparkling clean? And even though they're machine washable, that's not what you want to spend your time doing, is it? I vote for black. Or even red, or blue!
A block away, I came across this couple with their daughter. Everyone, but everyone, is wearing pompoms on their hats this year (although Jean and I did that last year), including this mother and daughter. Oh, and take a closer look at the daughter's sunglasses.
These two young women give new meaning to the expression 'chillin''. (And they're not even wearing hats!!!)
This guy, shoveling snow in his shirt sleeves (!) is also undaunted. But another guy (not pictured) was wearing a full balaclava. Maybe he was in from Hawaii. The wide variation in how people dressed was remarkable.
I saw one snowman, in a tree bed, who was advertising for Little Eric, a children's store that faced him directly.
And a bike that looked like it might not be able to reunite with its owner for months.
I loved running into this woman, who told me her coat was by a Danish company, and her hat, which looks to me like a modern version of a Renaissance balzo hat, was French.
I wound up walking home from the museum, and not because there was no public transportation. It was lovely to see the city transformed, if only for this short period. There was one last treat in store for me as I made my way back.
F. P. Journe had a huge window display trumpeting his product. It was so large, and the snow bank was so wide, that I had to stand in the street on top of the snow, keeping an eye out for traffic, to take the picture. Here it is seen walking downtown.
Walking in the uptown direction, one sees an equally imposing but completely different time piece. (You can see the reflection of the snow bank in the window.)
And straight in front of the store we see...
If it hadn't been for the snow, I might never have seen that trompe l'oeil feast. (Imagine how much time it took to prepare that!) Or any of the other little treasures of the day.