Archive for March, 2009

Manchester, NH / The clouds are big here

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Manchester, NH /
Low flying planes

Manchester Exit

Any New Yorker will tell you, who stood in the street and witnessed the attacks on the World Trade Center that they will never look at a low flying plane the same way again. Manchester has a beautiful,clean,regional airport that people will drive down from Maine and up from Boston to use. But the planes fly in really low. So low that when I first arrived in town I stopped cold, walking several times in the street watching the daily Southwest and FedEx runs to see if the plane would flip upside down and crash.

There is a runway behind the long term parking Terminal E section where the flight is literally less than 500 feet off the ground. Coming in for it’s final approach it follows this perimeter road out by the Stony Bridge yogurt factory. They fly in so low that they seem seconds away from clipping the trees or taking out the telephone lines. I will stop, pull my car off the road. Watching, I get that same mad stab of adrenaline I did on that clear September day thinking ‘uh-oh’ as my heart turns over.

Waiting March 27, 2009

At the bottom of the escalator there stands a 12-16 foot moose. I wait watching the arrivals and departures board for the Southwest flight bringing my brother in from Philadelphia for my birthday. His Southwest flight is a connection from Tampa. There are four flights daily to Tampa, Florida from Manchester, New Hampshire. Actually I am sure there are more. People from his flight stream down the escalator; tan, tired and happy.

In the middle of this crowd at the bottom of the steps I see a couple embracing. They kiss hello.This is not just some friendly peck, a quick hug and hey let’s now stroll over to baggage. No this is a long, slow, cinematic kiss. She exhales and both ease into each other exhilarated and safe, finally together. The boyfriend is taller than the girl she stands on tiptoe to kiss him. 

I try and look away but can’t. They are oblivious to everyone else arriving around them. To them time has stopped.In Europe these warm, public displays of affection are commonplace. She mouths to him”I’m so happy you’re home.”

I am early and have time to think. In almost thirty years of arriving in airports, there has been maybe three times that a boyfriend, father, or friend someone has been waiting to greet me. And the greeting has never been like that.

The clouds are big here

I still stop and watch the planes that fly in to low. I probably always will. But that fear did not deter me from moving to Manchester.The clouds are big here. Monumental. The sky takes up 80% of the picture plane and the clouds are magnificent. Huge white cumulus or long string stratus teaming with light and sun. And even though it gets cold it is always sunny. It is a still, quiet place to pause after low flying planes violently deconstruct and rearrange everything you know to be good and true and right.

Manchester Believe in Something Better

Red Sox Nation

Everyone here, even though it is New Hampshire, roots for the Boston Red Sox. Roots for is probably too mild a statement. It’s more like complete fanaticism. They wear top to bottom silk Red Sox jackets, socks, have bumper stickers on their cars that say I Hate A Rod. I only have 2 words for these fans: Philadelphia Phillies.

Coca Cola Bottles

Pittsfield, MA

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Sunday March 15, 2009 /
Leaving Pittsfield, MA

llpoh_pittsfield_cocacola

“There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes you’re gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin on the other side
It’s the climb”

Miley Cyrus

Jake’s Variety Rte 20 East

I wait patiently in line to pay for a Diet Coke while the cashier waits on another customer ahead of me who is obviously a local.

“Hey, sweet cheeks”” Hey, honey bear” How’s it hanging? This exchange goes on in every variety store in every small town in America every day, all day. Good hearted blonde ‘gals’ working the counter selling bad St. Patrick’s day cards, Antacid tablets, local papers and beer to hard working blue collar guys with scruffy beards wearing drab flannel shirts.

I am on my way out of Pittsfield, MA headed North on local 7 into Vermont. The trip across America begins here. I realize that totally by accident I am driving by the site of the worst moment of my life which happened almost 20 years ago to the day. I gasp when I see where I am and then ‘get’ intuitively inside that it’s over. Done. And it is now time to move on. I am literally driving past ‘the scene of the crime.’

We were assigned a bereavement counselor when my dad passed in July. Joyce would say to me that ‘hey that part of your life that included your father is over. It’s time for you to close that book and start on the new ‘book of Lynn’. Driving up Route 7 North through Lanesboro and beyond I could finally leave it all on the field and start anew. I can start looking forward instead of in my rear view mirror.

llpoh_pittsfield_stripedbug

Later on I cross into Southern Vermont picking up Route 9 East cutting through Wilmington and Brattleboro. I notice that everything is closed. Granted, it’s not peak fall foliage season in October when you cannot get a room, but today at 10:30 a.m. with country music blaring from my car radio (it’s always country here in Southern New England) every single parking lot of every single motel hotel restaurant is empty. Big, sad, faded wood Vacancy signs swing creaking in the wind.

The service was bad. Every restaurant is short staffed and the staff that is on is overworked and underpaid. Three meals in a row I encounter cranky waitresses that throw the food down on the table and never come back to refill my coffee cup.

The day grows 300 miles long and I am tired when I finally enter into New Hampshire; Dublin, Peterborough, Milton and ending back up where I started from on Friday in Manchester, N.H.

The only people that were happy and good were those convenience store workers.

Friday February 20th, 2009 Philadelphia International Airport

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Friday February 20th, 2009
Philadelphia International Airport

philly

I’m in the terminal waiting for Lucie Du Bois and her 2 boys to arrive on Air France Flight 252 from Paris. Scrawled high on the wall in bold, black bas relief of this terminal are these words from the Declaration of Independence, “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among them Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” This is the title I have been looking for this daily blog.

I scrawl them with sharpie on the front of my new journal and realize I am beginning the first page of a bold new chapter of my life, right from Philadelphia where I began working as an illustrator in 1981.

I have rented a huge black 2009 Altima town car from enterprise to take Lucie, Jules age 14, myself and Melchiore age 12, around Philly and Delaware County where I grew up. The car is so new that you don’t use a key to start it actually you push a button on the dashboard. This used to be my dream car. The next car I was going to buy. No more. It is way too big and unwieldy for me to drive. I call it the bat mobile. These are the two things the boys and Lucie comment on while in America for the first time; just how much bigger our cars are compared to the French and how everyone drinks Coca Cola.

llpoh_charlsburchfieldpenna_phila

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Charles Burchfield

I haven’t been to the Academy since 1990 when I saw the Bay Area Figurative Art show. They always encourage, never discourage you from drawing in their galleries and I distinctly remember the guards offering me a stool to work with while I was in the galleries those 2 days in ’90. Once again the security guards smile with encouragement as I stand and draw a copy of Burchfields’ work in my sketchbook. He had ‘a deep, spiritual relationship with nature’ the tag under his work reads. I think to myself, I wish I knew more about clouds.

Outside on the street, Broad and Cherry, with William Penn and Philly’s huge, grand City Hall towering over me I think back to my first days doing covers and illustration for the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer just up the Street at 4oo North Broad Street. I’d take the local train in from Ridley Park come up the stairs by Claes Oldenberg’s clothespin sculpture and walk up Broad to meet my deadlines with my portfolio and/or my finished illustrations under my arm.

llpoh_fairfieldporter_phila

This is my favorite Fairfield Porter painting, ‘Under the Elms’. I remember now why I love it so much. It is a nice moment to be in front of it drawing it alone. It’s always bigger and fresher than I remember it.

Friday February 27th, 2009 73rd & Broadway New York City

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Friday February 27th, 2009 /
73rd & Broadway New York City

nyc2

Room 1603. I arrive at 9 a.m. from Manchester on U.S Airways Flight 4671. There are only 4 people on the flight coming from New Hampshire to Manhattan.

Lucie opens the door to this Upper West Hotel/ apartment she found on the internet in France. She has prepared a French breakfast for her boys Jules and Melchiore and has added American pancakes for me on the griddle. New York City is vertical and we are on the 16th floor. Gorgeous, grey spring light pours in and this scene from the window actually reminds me more of the rooftops of Paris than New York City.

llpoh_room1603_nyc

Lucie and her boys are all three of them crammed into this room with one big bed and a kitcheonette. We head to the museum of Natural History the boys first choice and then later cross through Central Park to go see Bonnard’s work at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

llpoh_americanhistorymuseum_nyc

We have a picnic of bread, tomatoes, cheese, salami and ham; no knives, no butter right there in the park. Perfect really and just right. It was just what we all needed.

Hat store NYC1

On the way back to the Hotel I stop at Roslyn’s Hat Store. She has seen my illustrations for Irving Farm’s Café at 56 Seventh Avenue and wants to chat about a possible commission.