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It is Sunday and I have a few hours to spare. I am dropped downtown with my camera in hand and no destination in mind. My feet can decide where to take me.

I’ve wanted photos of the downtown for months now, but never seemed to find the time. Once long ago I had nothing but time; now I have lots, and hardly any.

It’s buildings crowding in on streets and pedestrians I desire. Leafy green and yellowing trees of autumn huddled together against the concrete and steel indifference of office towers.

Something in the flawless rectilinearity of a modern city strikes a chord in our breasts, a hard rational chord that vibrates upward into the head and not downward into the pit of the stomach, or lower, into the loins.

Trees, flowers and shrubs soften the lines and add depth and resonance to the chords, but still the music is clean and clear and cold.

I have been reading Black Elk Speaks in the scant interstices of a busy week. How the elk, buffalo, the eagle, the grassy plains, the creeks and rivers, the buttes, ridges, bluffs and mountains, the clouds scudding across the sky, darkening in an instant and rumbling with the rain heralding thunder, all of it formed the language of his being.

His great visions are drawn from all these elements. Living, vital elements.

  But as he recounted in his heartbreakingly tragic tale, the hoop of his nation was broken and the sacred tree at the centre that should have blossomed died.

The sacred tree, a symbol of the community’s health, withered and dead.

Drink Long and Deep

After a stop at the central library I continue my peregrinations. I sit at an outdoor table and order a drink, half to watch the passersby and half to read my new library book, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

A city with time on your hands is a wonderful place to be.