Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Steps to Knowledge

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For most of the people who walk on these steps, their purpose is to attend a class in which they will, presumably, learn something that will be useful to them as they go through their life and career.

But for others, the steps are just another short part of their journey to work, whether they are professors, maintenance workers or academic support staff.

These steps lead to one of the entrances of the Sparks Building on the campus of Penn State University in University Park.

Although I taught at Penn State for two years, I never once ventured into the Sparks Building. None of my classes met there and I didn’t have any other reason to go inside.

Most of the time, the walk up or down these steps is routine. But not always. It is not difficult to imagine that over the years many students have climbed these stairs with a sense of dread.

Maybe they had a test that day for which they weren’t prepared. Maybe they really needed to get a certain score on the final exam in order to get the grade they desired for the course or even to pass the course.

Then again it might be that some students dreaded going to the class every time it met because they just didn’t enjoy the experience. They would rather be doing just about anything else rather than going to that class.

It works the other way, too. Some students have climbed these steps in anticipation of attending a class they loved and working with a professor they admired.

Students eventually graduate or drop out of school short of finishing a degree. Those joys, anxieties, fears and sense of indifference will fade from memory.

But no one ever leaves behind climbing steps. The stairways leading into college campus buildings are replaced by those leading into a workplace or any number of other places.

And people will climb those steps with all of the range of emotions that they felt during their college days while going to and from class.


Winter Afternoon in Peninsula

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It had been a while since I’d been able to get out with my camera. Car troubles and other matters had kept me at home as winter ravaged Northeast Ohio.

More than a week into January, I finally got everything squared away and was able to get out of the house to so some winter photography.

I was going to watch a college basketball game in Akron on a Tuesday night so I left the house early and stopped by Peninsula to see what I might find.

I knew better than to expect to catch a train on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. That operation was on hiatus until later in the month. But you can still do a lot without a train.

Several years ago I photographed the Peninsula train station during winter when it had numerous icicles hanging on it. That was not the case on this day because the sun had melted them.

A step box on the platform had accumulated some snow and the platform area itself had footprints made by visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Snow no longer covered the rails, but in the late day sunlight the ties on the siding were barely visible.

At the far north end of town sat a baggage car that had been used as a prop when the Polar Express trains were operating before Christmas. Beneath that car was bare ground, the only bare ground to be seen.

There weren’t many people around on this day. It was still cold and winter is not a time of year when many people want to visit the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


When Thirsty in Bloomigton

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Like any college town, Bloomington, Indiana, has an abundance of bars, including sports bars, where you can cheer on your alma matter, in which case Indiana University.

Some of these bars are local traditions, having been around for decades and multiple generations of students. That helps sustain them as scads of alumni return to campus to relive some of the more memorable moments of their college days. And those don’t involve siting in a classroom.

Nick’s English Hut was founded in 1927 and has a prime location about two blocks west of the campus on Kirkwood Avenue, a major street connecting IU and downtown Bloomington. Most people know it as simply Nick’s.

Aside from beer, Nick’s also features the typical pub grub that you would expect in sports bar, but it also known for its stromboli sandwiches. The menu describes the traditional strom as a pizza sandwich.

While in Bloomington last year I didn’t venture into Nick’s and in face it has been many years since I’ve been inside the place.

But I did pause to photograph the exterior, making a mental note that it hasn’t changed at all from how it appeared when I first began attending IU in August 1983.

However, as I studied the bottom photograph I realized I didn’t remember there being sidewalk tables back in the day. So maybe the place has changed slightly.

Peninsula Canyon

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The Cuyahoga River winds its way through Peninsula, a small town surrounded by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Right after the river passes beneath the Towpath Trail, it enters a canyon-like setting.

Maybe canyon isn’t the right word to use here because there is a steep cliff on just one side of the passage.  There are more impressive cliffs to be found, but this is Northeast Ohio where the geographic features are modest, yet still noticeable.

I made these images on a winter afternoon when I was looking to get out with my camera for a while and capture some of winter’s beauty.

Chelsea Clock Tower

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Built by John Glazier as a water tower in 1907, the Chelsea Clock tower is one of this Michigan city’s most iconic images. It once served an industrial complex, but today has been restored and re-purposed into offices and businesses. The tower itself is eight stories tall.

Edgewater Park Sunset

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A sun-splashed day in late September is not unusual but having 90 degree temperatures on that day is out of the ordinary. Cleveland residents and visitors turned out in droves in Edgewater Park to enjoy the summer-like weather that felt more like July than early autumn. They were still out in large numbers at the park trying to enjoy every minute of an unusual day as the sun sank over Lake Erie, .

Did She Notice the Train?

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I was a passenger aboard a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train traveling through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park behind a steam locomotive.

I had my camera in hand to make photographs of the people who had come trackside to watch something out of the ordinary, a working steam locomotive at work.

In this image, the train is passing over the Towpath Trail near the Deep Lock Quarry south of Peninsula, Ohio.

A jogger is running southward on the trail, something you can find here on just about any given day.

As best I could tell from the short glimpse I was able to get, this jogger has her eyes straight ahead on the trail. Did she look up at all at the train? Notice that it was pulled by a steam locomotive?

I’ll never know. Such are the passing thoughts you have on any given day in the journey of life. Some of those, though, stay with you.