Dam Story

Cross River Dam-.jpg

The photos I like best have a story to tell, or at least they suggest one to an imaginative mind.  This image has a narrative, part of which actually happened. And part, well, I’m not entirely certain about.  

The Cross River Reservoir in northern Westchester is about 3 miles long and is just one of New York City’s suppliers.  At the West end, there’s a dam, built in 1908, more than 170 feet tall holding back some 10 billion gallons of water.  (History recounts how 50 buildings in the village of Katonah were relocated from here to their current spot by using horse drawn power and rolling logs.) Running along the top of the dam is a pathway almost a quarter mile long that reopened to the public 5 years ago after being closed in the wake of 9-11.  

It’s one of my photographic haunts and on a cold, snowy monochromatic day during one of our recent Nor’easters I found myself there looking for a winter image to post.

I was literally freezing – visibility strongly curtailed by the squalls of sleet and snow. What was I doing out here all by myself in this weather?  But glad I had purchased those wool gloves with no fingertips, enabling me to make fine adjustment settings on the camera and still having some feeling in my hands.  I was feeling a little lightheaded.

So, you can imagine how startled I was when a muffled weak voice behind me asked: “Anything interesting?”  Good thing my camera was firmly mounted on a tripod as I spun around to see my visitor.

My companion appeared to be very old with a grizzled gaunt face and a three day beard below a bemused smile. He was as colorless as the day except for the deepest clear blue eyes which dominated his face in sharp contrast to it, and the scene around us.   I couldn’t imagine what this octogenarian was doing out here.

I stuttered out a few words about looking for shapes and lines and patterns in the scene, not trying to be rude but also not wanting an extended conversation.  He nodded and asked a few more informed questions making it clear this was no idle chatter on his part, and that he was quite well versed in photographic expertise.

He offered that he had left his camera behind because it was too heavy and that his wooden tripod and leather bellows would not hold up well to this weather.

And with that he ambled off down the road in the opposite direction from which he’d come. As he was about to finally disappear into the snowy landscape I snapped this shot.