in my humble opinion

Does anybody really know what time it is?

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 12/16/20

I’m so befuddled. Between working from home and venturing out sporadically, I’ve lost all sense of time and place. The past week has been particularly confusing as I wandered about, …

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in my humble opinion

Does anybody really know what time it is?

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I’m so befuddled. Between working from home and venturing out sporadically, I’ve lost all sense of time and place. The past week has been particularly confusing as I wandered about, wondering if I was stuck in the past, looking toward the future or somewhere in-between. This year has been beyond bizarre and, as we prepare to hunker down for what could be a long winter, I find myself slightly dazed and utterly confused.

Hearing last week that Dickens on the Delaware was slated to take place in Callicoon, NY as scheduled this year, I thought about the annual salute to Victorian Christmas cards and thought it might be a photo-op in the making. In past years, the costumed carolers wandering amidst visitors sporting top hats and capes have provided more than the requisite amount of colorful charm set in a turn-of-the-century, picturesque town.

I grabbed a mask and my camera, hauled out the dog stroller (don’t judge!) and steered toward the banks of the Delaware River, unaware of the troubled waters that lay ahead in my mind’s eye.

Once there, I saw Rafters Tavern’s Keith Thomson, a photographer himself, taking pictures of old-timey-looking ladies dressed in holiday style. “Hmm,” I thought. I decided I needed the trio, Keith and his photo subjects, to pose for my first photo of the day. “Between the masks and the costumes, I’m getting a Spanish-Flu-Pandemic vibe, circa 1918. Is that a good thing?” I wondered. 

DeeJay Max Lee (like him on Facebook!) was set up at the train depot, providing an eclectic mix of cool music that filled the town square—a mix of fresh, retro and vintage, creating a festive mood, old-school-style. As Dharma swayed to the rhythm in her flannel pajamas (I said don’t judge!) I took to the streets, camera in hand, mask over face, seeking to capture images that might illustrate the day.

What I didn’t see coming was my mood swings, which alternated between happy and sad, pensive and glad—running the gamut from giddy (seeing people I knew) to somber (we were all wearing masks) and everything in-between. As I surveyed the scene through the camera’s lens, I became troubled once more, quietly observing the scene in black and white, tinged with the sepia tones reminiscent of Victorian times.

Normally, I approach folks I don’t know in order to ask where they’re from, but this time, I kept my distance, using a zoom lens from afar, steering clear of human contact. I took pictures of people I recognized because I could spell their names without asking. I audibly sighed and forced myself to see it all in color every so often, if for no other reason than to remind myself that it’s 2020 and that I’m not actually an antique.

Did the Farm Arts Collective lift my spirits as they marched through town performing a funeral dirge? Not really, but the group is a staple at Dickens and they lightened up considerably while caroling on the steps of the historic Western Hotel. As visitors flocked to the scene, taking pictures with their phones, I was momentarily present and realized that it wasn’t 1852 (when the Western was built) after all.

Arriving home, I glanced at the photos, pleased to find that some were actually colorful, interspersed in with the plethora of black, white and gray. There were sweet pictures of friends clearly smiling behind the masks and some of children looking happy to be out and about. The shops were alive and vibrant, set against the backdrop of my personal gloom and doom, reminding me that a brighter, more colorful future is (hopefully) just around the proverbial corner. As I straddle the two worlds, I can’t help but wonder: Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? We’ve all [had] time enough to cry.

Fun Fact: The song “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” was recorded by the rock band Chicago and sung by Robert Lamm for their 1969 debut album “Chicago Transit Authority.”

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