Out of the Tidal Pool, Matheson Hammock Park

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Matheson Hammock and the Line


Tucked off Old Cutler Road is Matheson Hammock Park.  The park bakes in the sun on the edge of Biscayne Bay.  I haven’t been there, most likely, since I used to wade in the man made tidal pool.

I wanted to see the water.  I always find comfort in gazing out into the water.  The temperature was rising by the time I got to the park.  The mangroves were thick and provided refuge from the scorching sun.

I was disappointed is all the trash that were trapped in their roots.  Whether they were tossed by park goers, or boaters, I really don’t know.  I wish for our parks and natural spaces to be clean and free of litter.

After the wandering through the mangroves I headed over to the tidal pool.  The tidal pool is where all the youth in our area used to head to play in the water in a safe environment.  I have warm memories of splashing around in the tepid bath like water.

I was happy to see a few kids splashing around.  Even one was screaming about seeing alligators.  It was an odd mix of older folks, small families with young ones, and a few tourists, who must have found about it in a guide book telling them of a nice chill spot away from the South Beach madness.

The coral structures and the thick rusted chains all brought back the giant memories of Matheson Hammock.  I may not really vibe off off swimming in the the tidal pool, but I felt comfortable wandering around, and reflecting of where I came from, and where I will be going.
15 Little Birds, Matheson Hammock Park

Coney Island Wintery Snow Cones

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Home Hot Flag Over Coney Island


It is pretty hard to fathom that just a week ago the snow was falling so hard that I could barely see across the street in New York.  Now, I am on my parents patio in Miami, editing the snow filled scenes from NYC.

Coney island is a place I have only heard my family talk about.  My mother remembers going there in the heat of summer and riding the attractions and having out on the sun baked board walk.  I have always wanted to hop on the D train and take in a bit of that board walk history.

It was a day after a blizzard that I finally made my way out to the childhood wonderland of Coney Island.  I took the D train to the West 8th Street Aquarium.  I was just about the only one who got off the train.  I made my way down the soggy steps out onto the street.

The skies were a candy blue as layers upon layers of snow stacked up on the beach.  I spotted the rides and made a mad dash for them.  Well, not exactly a mad dash.  It was as much as a mad dash that this Miamian could manage in brand new snow boots.

This is where both my parents spent their summers.  This is where they munched on candy apples and strolled along the boardwalk.  Now, 60 years later here I am wrapped from head to toe to protect me from the Great White North winds blowing in over the Atlantic.

The whole area was closed and shuttered till spring.  The only to places along the board awl that were open was Nathan’s and Applebees.  Nathan’s looked like a collection of outtakes from a Fellini casting call.

All the snow and the utter lack of other people shifted the whole experience to the surreal.  A place of fun in the sun, was now knee deep in snow.

I continued to crunch along the boardwalk passing someone out for a stroll with their pooch. I wanted to walk down to the waters edge.  The snow collapse under my boots leaving a trail of size 14 prints in the snow.

My nose felt nothing as by now it had numbed in the icy wind.  I could though the memories of my parents experience a side of Coney Island they never did.  The brightly colored rides and walls stood still for me as I was alone with my thoughts and camera.

It was truly absurd to go down to Coney Island in the dead of winter but, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Even though my visit probably had come 60 years after my parents we were able to connect though place if not time.

All the sights and smells may have been different but I could swear I could still smell the sticky sweetness of the cotton candy as I crunched my way though the snow.


Snowed In Carousel, Coney Island

Beach Snow Carpet, Coney Island

Snow Candy Reflection, Coney Island

Non Threating Heat, Coney Island

Tokyo Blizzard of February 8, 2014

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Edge of Tokyo in February 08 2014 Blizzard


I have been looking at my phone all week.  There had been a snow mark for saturday since about Monday.  I usually don’t think much about it.  Being from Miami, I do find snow quite intriguing.  So, there we go.  We are suppose to get snow.

As the day moved closer reports started to come in that this is going to be the heaviest snow to hit Tokyo in more than 20 years.  I thought that the snow that hit last year pretty bad, but what was coming out in the news was saying that this was going to be a once in a generation storm.

My kitty woke my at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning cause he was hungry.  I gave hime a bit of food and took a look out the window.  My mid Shabbat the show was beginning to fall.  It was crazy cold out and i jumped back in bed.

By morning the snow was pilling up.  I was worried about my patio greenhouses, and I kept on sweeping the accumulating snow off.

Finally I suited up to go on my arctic expedition around the neighborhood.  It was a ghost town.  Almost no one was out.  A few kids were playing in the snow or trying to sled down some small hills.  It was pretty much just me, my camera, and a warm cap.

Snow has a way of beautifying the city.  Everything becomes the same tonality.  Objects take on new shapes as the bleed into one another.  I was out for more than an hour.  The wind would pick up at times, and the snow being so dry this year blew like a leaf blower across my cheeks.

We, the wife and I, were suppose to go out to celebrate her earth day, that wasn’t going to happen.  I made her a cup of amazake  which is a  a thick drink made with the left over mash from nihonshu (sake) and is usually sweetened and sometimes sake is added to it.

Suddenly she is lets go to Seiyu.  We suit up to make the several block trek to the supermarket.  Her  clear vinyl umbrella blew inside out. We walked down the middle of the street.  Some cars had been abandoned on the side of the road.  The only cars we sway were delivery trucks.  Nothing seems to stop the special  deliveries.    Even saw one guy help push another one’s truck out of the snow.

We made it to the store and back.  Caught some olympics and went to sleep.  The snow was still falling even after midnight.

By morning the snow had begun to melt.  I had trekked to the home center to buy a shovel yesterday which came in handy today.  I cleared a small path on the sidewalk adjacent to my home and cleared off the step.

After breakfast my wife asked me to clear off the driveway.  I did.  I soon noticed all of my neighbors were out to with shovels in hand.  Not just the men, but the women too.  They weren’t clearing their driveways, they were clearing the street.  I was shocked.

I couldn’t give in so I too joined in the effort to clear the street.  After about 2 hours I was beat like i went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.  But, I wasn’t done yet.  I retuned with a small spade and joined my wife as we cleared the last bit of road that connected up with the one the busses went down.

Before going back inside.  I just stared at the road cleared of snow and marveled.  We did this!  Not a snow plow but a bunch of housewives cleared out streets and sidewalks so we, as the community, could be safe.  That was beautiful.

All and all a very memorable day.  So much snow.  The teamwork to clean the now.  The astonishing amount of snow that came down from the sky.  I don’t know how my people in the colder climates can cope.

Now rest, for tomorrow shall bring muscle aches.
Nagisa New Town Canyons with Yellow Umbrellas



Frosted Pruned Trees, Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard



Snow Slide, Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard



Riverside Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard


Yakushi Onsen (Hot Springs) Gunma Prefecture

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Farmer's Home, Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)It

It was been a bit since I have written a post.  Honestly partly laziness with a dash of using my iPhone too much.  That being said I just returned from a whirlwind trip up north to Yakushi Onsen (Hot Springs) in Gunma Prefecture.

We hoped aboard an express JR train from Ueno station heading north.  It wasn’t soon after leaving the Tokyo Terminal that it began to rain.  Speeding away from the industrial center and the endless stretches of concrete the rain quickly turned to sleet and before I knew it it was snowing.

Being a true Miamian, I am always amazed at snow.  This freezing cold white substance that falls from the skies.  No matter how many scientific explanations I read about the formation of snow, it still seems like magic to me.  So, there I was, dashing on this speeding train watching the snow come down, and down.

We excited at Nakanojo station and met by our hotel’s staff that shuttled us 45 minutes up into the Gunma mountains.  As we gained elevation, more and more of the magical white stuff stretched out across the valleys.  By the time we reached the hotel the wet snow had before dry and was whipping about our faces.

The hotel was an old samurai’s home that had been converted to a hotel with most of the outer buildings housing small collections of antiques.  My wife grabbed a blue umbrella to keep off the snow, as I opted to let the show accumulate on my hood.

Japan is famous for there hospitality and Hatago hotel was no exception.  They helped us and served a warm glass of shitake mushroom tea as we answered a barrage of questions about all of our dinning and hotel options.

I walked around for a bit and found a small temple not far away.  By now the snow has ceased falling but the wind was whipping the dry snow across the blanketed farms.  It was beautiful to be making the first tracks across the snow.

It was time to head back and soak away some of those aches and pains.  I get to the bath, and suddenly I couldn’t read the characters for men and women’s bath.  They weren’t the usual ones.  One noren was blue, the other was red.  I kind of assumed that red is close to pink so probably for the women, but I didn’t want to risk being responsible for having an elderly Japanese woman freak out at having a tall bearded foreigner pop his head in.  Proper hot spring etiquette is essential for not being a fear inducing traveler.

I found some staff and and confirmed that the blue side was for me.  I kept repeating the mantra “blue” to myself as I slowly drew back the door and peaked inside.  I was greeted by absolutely no one.  I had the place to myself.

I found a lucky 100 yen in the locker disrobed and put the key around my wrist.  Properly washed before entering the bath.  I poured a few wooden buckets of water over my shoulder as an attempt to adjust to the freezing air and the boiling bath.  I truly had forgotten just how scalding the water could be.  Probably somewhere in the range of around 45C (113F).  Feet in first, then legs, up to my torso and then finally my shoulders.  Not really sure how long this took, but by the time I left the bath I am postive that the water became a bit of a Jacob broth after I was fully able to submerge myself.

The night progressed nicely as the temps dipped into the teens (about -8C).  We sampled a never ending dinner of local goodies and some of sake.  I am not a big eater and I was overwhelmed by all the delicacies.

It was a crispy cold short adventure.  We city dwellers forget that there is so much beauty out there once we make the jump out of the cities.  Tokyo just happens to be so huge that it takes a while to get out.  I was thrilled to see some snow, and snap the shutter a few times.  I need to break out of Tokyo and hit the hills.

Mountain in Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)

Temple Flag and Orchard, Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)

Temple Stuffed Rabbit, Inari Shrine Fox and Snow Tracks, Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)

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