“How often have I watched, and longed to imitate when I should be free to live as I chose, a rower who had slipped his oars and lay flat on his back in the bottom of the boat, letting it drift with the current, seeing nothing but the sky gliding slowly by above him, his face aglow with a foretaste of happiness and peace!”
― Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way
“Small men oft feel a need to prove their courage with unseemly boasts,” he declared. “I doubt if he could kill a duck.”
Tyrion shrugged. “Fetch the duck.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
Bachman Lake, Dallas, Texas
“Be a duck, remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath.”
― Michael Caine
“I heard an airplane passing overhead. I wished I was on it.”
“Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern.”
“-Hey, listen,” I said. “You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?” I realized it was only one chance in a million.”
I watched the ducks go about their start of the day routine from a bench along the water at dawn. One ritual was to repeatedly duck under the water and rise up – letting the water run off their feathers. Like taking a little duck shower.
- It’s even harder to get up at 5:30 on a Sunday than it is on a Friday workday.
- There are fewer people on a train before dawn on weekends, but there are still more than you would expect.
- A lot of people that are on the train that early on the weekend look like they are involved in sports. I guess that makes sense. It looked like an entire woman’s tournament (maybe volleyball) was going somewhere south in Dallas.
- It’s cold before the sun comes up.
- I estimated that the sun’s disk would rise up in the center of Main Street in Downtown Dallas two days after the official henge date.
- I was pretty much right.
I took a lot of photographs in the short few seconds that the sun peeked up down Main Street. I’ll probably post some more as I post-process them.
So now I’ve done it, I don’t have to get up that early and go anymore. Well, maybe not. As I was walking back towards the train, I discovered another spot with a morning “henge” view directly down Elm street, right along the schoolbook depository. It wasn’t as scenic as main street, but had a more “canyon” appearance. Maybe next year I’ll go and shoot that one.
I am not a morning person and when my alarm went off at 5:15 it took more than a little effort to drag myself out and about. I was worried about the weather, but at the train station I saw stars glinting here and there through the thick city night sky soup and I knew it was cloudless. But as I waited for the train, I saw the telltale glow in the east which quickly grew into the start of a salmon-colored dawn and I began to think I was not going to make it in time.
The train arrived and I climbed aboard, wedging myself in with the morning’s crop of sleepy commuting workers, having to make room for my backpack filled with a camera and my folding tripod across my lap.
It was April 19, the morning Dallashenge. I first came across this concept well over a year ago, when I read about Manhattanhenge – the day that the setting (or rising) sun lines up with the east-west street canyons of central New York. In a city (like Chicago) where the streets run exactly along the points of the compass, the henge date is on the spring and fall equinox – but in cities like New York (or Dallas) where the downtown street grid, for geologic or historical reasons, is a few degrees off-kilter, the dates will fall somewhere else.
Using the very useful website, suncalc.net, I was able to calculate the henge dates for Dallas – an evening henge falls on February 15, and a morning henge on April 19 – at about ten minutes to seven.
In February of 2012, I went downtown in the evening and took some shots of the henge. It was sort of fun. Now I wanted to do a morning “henge” and Friday, April 19th was on its way. For a long time I worked on finding a suitable perch where I could look down the long downtown streets. I thought about the parking garage and the jail, but one day I discovered that there was a walkway along the infamous triple underpass in Dealey Plaza that had a great view down main street.
After some test shots I was ready.
Despite my worries I made it down there in time. I set up my tripod and waited while the sky grew lighter and lighter. I wondered if my calculations were correct. Was I at the right place at the right time?
I was and I wasn’t. The sun did peek up right down main, but before the entire disk came up over the asphalt it had moved off to the side. I think a better photograph might come a couple days later, when the whole disk of the sun will appear over the dead center of the street.
So, maybe Sunday. I’m not sure if I can get up that early on a weekend morning… but we’ll see.