It was a bright and crisp October morning. Frost was about. Perfect football weather. Halloween decorations abounded. The leaves were falling. The squirrels darted to and fro. A few homeless men wandered around with their possessions.
I saw a middle-aged man on the sidewalk ahead of me with a camera strapped around his neck. I recognized it as a high end model. The man was shooting photographs of apples in a tree. This delighted me. Someone was out in the world making art in the morning and I walked into his process.
The man saw me and disengaged with the camera. He looked happy. He asked me if I’d seen the gray owl in the tree a few dozen feet behind me. I had not. How had I missed that! Well, he hadn’t and gotten the shot.
I asked him if the camera was a Leica. It was. He was shooting film, real film. I couldn’t believe it!
We then dived into the joys of film, developing and darkrooms and how it was all nearly vanished from our creative culture. I made a comparison to illuminated manuscripts and how they eventually went away as an art form. He then told me an incredible story: he had a relative who was some kind of monk in some kind of monastery in Los Angeles and working on an illuminated manuscript! With no computers! Now what was actually being illuminated in a manuscript in Los Angeles monastery in 2021 was something astonishing to consider. It might not even be religious in nature!
It was a great conversation, utterly invigorating, and it took place in the unlikeliest of places and at the unlikeliest of times.
Joy in the city!
But how did I miss the owl?