Reflections: Business Building in the Snow
"There are places I remember all my life
Though some have changed . . . "
I have been at Penn State long enough that any walk through campus is truly a stroll down memory lane. Some of the memories are from the time I spent on campus as a student (undergrad in the 80s, grad in the 90s); others are from the many more years that I have been employed by the University. They have all been good years, and I am grateful for every minute.
There is a corner of campus that I am most familiar with, and that is the northeast end of campus. I lived in a dorm called Runkle in North Halls for several years, lived across the street in a little square white house with black shutters on East Park Avenue for another year, and worked in a building called Mitchell Building at the corner of Shortlidge and East Park Avenue for quite a few years after that.
And of course, the Arboretum sits in what was once an empty field across Park Avenue from Mitchell Building, and I go there as often as I possibly can. So I am still a frequent visitor to the northeast end of campus. It feels like 'home" to me.
Mitchell Building, where I worked when I was first hired by Penn State, was a mundane looking building, chock full of asbestos. At first, they contained it by sealing it in, and later they simply tore the building down (under a constant stream of water, of course, to keep the asbestos from dispersing through the air). That building was replaced by the new business building that you see in this photo. The business building sits in the exact spot where Mitchell Building once stood, but it is a LOT nicer to look at!
The business building's chief appeal is the long row of windows that face Park Avenue. The windows provide a fine reflective surface for picture taking, and I have stopped there now several times to work on my shots. On this particular day, it was snowing. We got somewhere between four and six inches of new snow in central Pennsylvania on this day, after a quick clipper system that dumped an inch or two the afternoon before. So things were starting to look pretty snowy and wintry.
At the moment that I snapped this photo, it was snowing quite heavily, and I was bundled up in winter clothes and carrying my daysack, my camera bag, and an umbrella. Without going into the mechanics of it, it was tough to maneuver the camera in these conditions. I will suffice it to say that I am waiting for someone to invent the perfect umbrella hat for photographers. You know, a little something you could simply clip onto your head, and it would protect you from the snow while you fiddle around with the camera and get a few shots. (If you invent such a thing, drop me a line, will you, please?)
But other than the degree of difficulty engendered by the weather itself, it was an awfully fun photo shoot. I was like a kid in a candy store. Or maybe more like a kid in a fun-house, playing with the fun-house mirrors. Every way I stepped or leaned or angled my camera, I got a different view of the reflections.
This is, I'll admit, an odd hobby of mine, this photographing of buildings. But the truth is that I do it simply because I love doing it. Focusing on the lines and reflections soothes me. All those lines, all lined up. It makes me happy to look at them. It gives me hope that there will be order to life.
And of course there is the fun Alice-through-the-Looking-Glass feel to it too. A reflection is a world like our world, but it is also a world changed. A blending of truth and falsehood, of wishes and dreams, and past and present and future, all shot through with the weavings of memory.
The song that came to mind as I looked at and thought about this building, and where it sits, and what it all means in the grand scheme of things, is the Beatles tune, In My Life. and it is the song from which the quoted lyrics above were obtained.