Living in a college town means that several times a year one gets to experience the Big Empty. The ghost time feeling left in the wake of the departure of 40,000 souls. Sunday evening I had to run a few errands and took advantage of almost dry roads and mid 30s temperatures. Seeing steam escaping from a building vent was enough to have me pose the Vespa for a portrait with the lone person walking down Calder Alley. I've made many pictures in this alley over the years and I continue to be drawn to it.
Darkness descended when it was time to ride home and the temperature had dropped below freezing. Night always presents additional challenges for a rider and in freezing weather allowances always have to be made for stray water turned to ice. Old Main, the main administration building at Penn State, glowed in the distance as I got ready to go. One last loop through town before heading home.
The center of business life in State College is the stretch of Allen Street between College and Beaver Avenues. There are always cars here in the evening because of the bars and restaurants in this part of town.
Junior, now dubbed the Hammer of Sweetness by our youngest daughter Aleta, joined me in town the next morning for a walk and a bit of dog socialization. Belgian Sheepdogs are wary, alert and do not warm to strangers quickly. Junior and I have been working diligently to familiarize him with strangers and situations in town. He has made a dramatic shift from warning me of every individual on the planet to now he walks casually among people on the street without concern. He takes his cue from me and senses when things are ok. His breed does not warm to people quickly but with my ok he now allows people to greet him without shying away. And once he accepts the gesture he then wants to sit in their lap. He's a good dog.
After returning Junior home for breakfast I had to get back to town and meet my friend Paul at Saints Cafe. Another local place to which I am drawn over and over again. Paul wanted to go for a ride but snow was falling outside and I felt it better to wait for better weather. As I looked out the window at the street I realized I had ridden in far worse and I could have ridden into town if I desired. I didn't. Call me mature.
In an attempt to bring some riding energy to the table Paul showed me the brake drum he ordered for his 1964 Vespa GL. It had arrived from Italy and he was excited about the box. I was reminded (again) how little I care for all things mechanical. It's approaching a pathology.
Paul is a photographer and brought along a box of prints for me to look at. I am always impressed with the work he does. His attention has wandered in different directions in the past few years and he is not (pardon the pun) focused on photography like he once was. Still, his work is strong. He has a series of portraits made over many years of his daughter Allison. He used to shoot them with an 8x10 view camera but now more and more is done with a 35mm or digital camera. I would invoke the term progress but he still has that damn 1964 Vespa...