New York in the Fog

Tim and I randomly drive into New York to play tourist. I think I’m afraid that someday soon our life will come into focus and we’ll end up moving to Kentucky or something and I won’t have access to Central Park anymore. New York is dynamic, constantly changing and shifting. It never looks the same twice to me. Perhaps if I actually lived there I’d feel different about it, but each time I drive in I see something crazy and beautiful that I never noticed before.

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This particular day was wet and cold and foggy. We were planning on seeing The Museum of Natural History, but the parking we’d prepaid for was mysteriously full up. We ended up just driving around New York instead.

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It was amazing. The fog was dense and clung to the tops of the buildings like smoke rings. Sometimes we couldn’t tell if the buildings were ended or the fog had just swallowed up the upper stories. I tried to imagine what it would be like to work in one of those offices, to look out your window and see nothing but smoky grey, instead of the usual bustle and beat of the city below you.

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The bridges too were smothered, so that as we drove over the George Washington, we could barely see the other side of the river.

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I’ll never forget how beautiful it was.

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New Hobby

I’ve taken to photography as a hobby now, and love snapping pictures. It was an easy thing to get into, mostly because of smart phones all being equipped with cameras. I don’t by any means think I’m great at it, but I enjoy trying to capture what I see at just the right angle, or just the right lighting.

My two favorite subjects for pictures are sunsets…

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…and New York City.

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I take all my photos on my iPhone right now, so I’m clearly not planning on going professional, but it’s fun to play around with the focus and I’ve got some pictures I’m really proud of. I took this one in Central Park this winter.

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This one is of my in-law’s chandelier.

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This one of the daffodils is the only one here not taken on my iPhone. I borrowed my Dad’s camera.

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And last of all, here is one I took of my Buppy ❤ doesn’t he have a lovely profile? *sigh*

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“The Essence of Romance…”

The Essence of romance is Uncertainty.” ~ Oscar Wilde

IMG_4877We were driving on the highway to Ikea. It snowed during the night, just enough to dust the brown landscape of winter with a layer of pure white. Timothy and I oooed and ahhed over it all the way to the store. While we shopped, I kept gazing out the windows to the trees below and moaning with delight.

“I wish it didn’t cost so much to park in the city,” I said. “Because I bet Central Park is beautiful.”

Tim nodded. “Yeah, it’s a shame.”

Before we checked out, we grabbed lunch at the Ikea cafeteria. I was nibbling at my chicken fingers (No, I didn’t get the meatballs. Yes, I know that’s sacrilege.) when I noticed my husband was playing on his phone. It irks me when we’re out together and he piddles our alone time on twitter. I cleared my throat. “Buppy?” He looked up. “Whacha doin’?”

He smiled. “I found us parking in the city for only $9.”

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Thus with a narrowly avoided scolding, my husband bequeathed me a $9 date which is now climbing the hit chart of Svendsen date history. IMG_4996We left Ikea and parked in the city a little after noon. The morning was overcast with thick clouds, but the sun chased behind us. We stepped into Central Park just in time for the snow to still be sleeping lazily on the branches. As we walked, clods of ice plopped from the branches and beaned us on the head. We laughed at each other as the water dripped down our faces into our eyes. We held hands, took pictures, and loved on New York City.

 

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He’s adorable, my husband, but not very spontaneous. Neither of us are really, but every now and again he’ll turn flip the switch and do something I absolutely don’t expect. It was a perfect date. The high point of which was when we reached a pond, where I grabbed onto the railing to look out over the sunlight reflecting in the water and the buildings beyond it reaching into the blue sky. I felt him behind me, slowly shuffling round to the front. When I turned and saw him taking pictures of me I made a face at him.

“What?” he said. “You see beautiful things and you take pictures. I see beautiful things and I take pictures.”

Why is he so perfect? ❤

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© Rachel Svendsen 2016

Three Years Later…

My husband and I had very different ideas about what song we would use for our first dance. We both had songs that made us think of each other, but none of them were the same. We went back and forth for a while, until I struck a new idea.

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We met at Raritan Valley Community College where we were both studying music. In those days, I was an aspiring singer who hated publicly performing. So as much as I wanted to sing to my husband on our wedding day, I didn’t want to sing to him on our wedding day. Each performance I did was already a near death experience, but on my wedding day I knew I would be a sobbing mess of blubbering panic attacks. It was also likely they would record this disaster, making the idea that much more abhorrent.

So I asked Timothy if we could record a duet together and use that song as our first dance. He loved the idea. We chose, “I See the Light,” from Disney’s Tangled. We rehearsed it with my vocal coach, and recorded it in a small studio in town. I wanted to make a slideshow to go with it, hoping that people would look at it instead of us dancing, but planning the wedding was too overwhelming so I dropped the idea.

Today, we will be married 3 years. I made my slideshow.

This is for you Timothy. I love you so very much.

Awake in Autumn

Summer is long over. The lingering days of warmth faded into an early morning chill that warned of autumn creeping over nature.

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If summer is the peak of warmth and winter the peak of cold, then autumn and spring are the transitional seasons. The tweeners. I don’t particularly like being hot because I love tea and fuzzy socks and warm blankets and cuddling in my husband’s sweat shirts. So as beautiful as summer is, with lazy warm days at the shore under sunny blue skies, it’s still not my favorite season. Since I like the cold, I’m more drawn to winter. The catch is that I’m not a huge fan of snow. I think it’s because it often dumps from the sky in such huge quantities that I become a prisoner in my own house. This strange claustrophobia makes less sense when you understand my habits. Some days I barely leave my house for writing and reading all day. I think it’s just the mental block of an outside force controlling my ability to do as I please.

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There is beauty in every season, but fall is probably my favorite. Fall is a fading from summers heat into a sigh of cool breezes. The stark beauty of green bursts forth into a myriad of color. Red, orange, yellow, and brown, with pops of purple and pink. I love when the breeze blows and the leaves flutter and dip to the ground like raindrops to cover the dying grass. It’s like the trees are knitting their foliage into a blanket to cover their toes against the coming snow.

I love walking in fall. I love the sound of dry leaves scraping and clicking as the wind sends them skipping across the pavement. I love the smells of earth which seems accentuated with the cooling temperature.

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I’ve been more awake this year to the changing seasons. There’s probably many reasons for that. Sometimes I think it’s because we moved to a more rural area. Or maybe it’s because of my husband’s job change, giving us more chance to spend time outside. I think those things help, but more than that I think it’s because I want to be awake now. The more I grow, the more I realize how much of my life I’ve spent asleep. Now my eyes are open, and I don’t want to miss a thing.

Not one color. Not one scent. Not one fallen leaf.

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© Rachel Svendsen 2015

Presumed Perils and Prevalent Pleasures of the Outdoors

Growing up, my mother used to tell me stories about people who went on nature walks. They usually ended with small children huddled together against the cold in an abandoned car, while the parent wandered boldly to his death in the mountains, searching for help. These stories were probably meant to instruct me to make wise decisions. Instead they created in me a festering fear of anything hiking. If someone said to me, “Come visit me in North Carolina. We’ll go hiking. It’s absolutely gorgeous here,” I would titter nervously while I silently imagined myself wandering half starved through the trees, my voice too hoarse to scream for help.

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I’ve been on a journey during the past year of facing my fears head on. I started small and have been gradually building up. Tuesday, October 20th was the day Timothy and I tackled my fear of hiking. We packed up my lime green backpack with three water bottles, charged our cellphones so we could take pictures, and filled a ziplock baggie with snacks. I laced up my new black and hot pink sneakers, waved goodbye to friends and family, then hopped somberly into the car. We drove 50 minutes to a trail in the Delaware Water Gap called “Tumbling Waters.” I’d never seen a real waterfall. I mean I’ve been to Niagara falls, but to me that hardly counts. Niagara is a deafening deluge of power. It needs a name bigger than waterfall, like Grandiosely Majestic Deluge Of Death Or Something (GMDODOS for short). Basically, I had never seen a naturally occurring stream trickle magically down into a pool of shining water. I hoped this light at the end of the tunnel would provide me extra incentive to complete the three mile loop.

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It was a perfect day; too warm really to need a sweat shirt, but cool enough that we weren’t wiping sweat from our eyes. I didn’t see a single insect. The sky was cloudless and the sun was bright, shooting rays of light through the trees to illuminate the acorns, pine needles, rocks, and fallen leaves. Autumn is my favorite season and it was still early enough that half the trees had yet to turn. This made the landscape a delicious pallet of orange, yellow, red, and purple to accent the fresh green of life. The air smelled clean and fresh and of dirt and late October. I heard blue jays and saw chipmunks.

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And I got so freaked out I nearly turned back…

About a mile in, I began to get dizzy. Not an oh-no-I-think-I’m-sick dizzy, but an oh-no-I-can’t-see-the-road dizzy; an oh-no-are-you-sure-we’re-not-hopelessly-lost-ohmygoshIcan’tbreathe dizzy.
I swallowed and said in a chipper voice, “Buppy? You said the waterfall is the half way point, right?”
He smiled at me, “Yep.” He was totally in his element, arms swinging merrily at his sides. Outside, fresh air, exercise, and my hand in his. What more could a man want?
I nodded. “So…uhh…how much farther to the waterfall?”
“We’re about halfway there.”
“How long have we been walking?”
“About thirty minutes.”
My head began to spin and my breath quickened. Visions of forever wandering in the barren wilderness began to dance in my head. “Can we sit down for a minute?”

“Of course.” We plopped onto a nearby rock and I broke down. I said many things, but the gist of it was, “I’m scared. Are we lost? How can you be sure? Can we go back? Take me home.” Timmy held my hand until the panic attack passed. I swallowed my fear and told myself that I could do this and if I didn’t I was just feeding the lies that had taken root in my brain.

We got up and finished the hike. I managed to keep my fears at bay, only regularly reminding Timothy to look out for rattlesnakes and copperheads. Now, I can’t wait to go hiking again. I loved it. All of it. Including the panic attack. 😉

All of the photos here are from our trip. I’m not a photographer, but sometimes nature is, in and of itself, so photogenic that no matter the angle, or how inept you are, the image is still spectacular. Here’s a few more of my favorites.
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babbling brook we had to cross on rocks
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my first “real” waterfall
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This is probably my favorite picture from the trip. My mother-in-law said it looks like the path to Middle Earth.
© Rachel Svendsen 2015