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Last night’s Harvest Moon rose at 6:49, just minutes before the official sun set. Top Cat and I were watching for it from the best vantage point in our hometown:

From the parking lot of the train station.

I am very attracted to parking lots. I like their geometry, and I like their sense of space. I like the way they are not usually thought of as aesthetic objects — but each one has been carefully designed to express something essential about the area they surround.

This parking lot is for a small station on the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) and is unusual because it’s free. (Most parking lots on this line, one of the two Gold Coast lines, charge a monthly fee for commuters.) The station house (in the upper right corner) was built in 1887 and is the only one that still has its pot bellied stove that was the original source of heat in the waiting room– if I were a railroad obsessive I’d be real excited about that. The stove doesn’t work, it’s only for show. The waiting room is heated, but most people sit in their cars on Winter mornings, with the car engine running, until their train comes. Yeah. There are a lot of assholes in my town. We live about half a mile from this station.

That’s the 6:36 from Penn Station (in Manhattan) pulling out of our station at 7:25, heading for Oyster Bay.

You see that building on the hill at the end of the street (above)? That’s the local high school. The writer Michael Crichton graduated from this school in 1960. The last school superintendent here was put in prison in 2005 for stealing 8 million dollars from the schools budget — the school board didn’t notice that all that money was missing until a secretary (in cahoots with the superintendent) was caught writing herself very large checks…and with a strangely large, custom-built beach house for a school secretary. Yeah. We have a lot of assholes on the school board.

These guys look like regulars. Each train that comes and goes in and out of the city has its regulars, guys who always sit in the same seats every day. When you get four or five regulars on a train, they usually play cards and then carpool on the drive home.

All the commuters have gone now, the parking lot has regained its composure. Another thing I like about parking lots is that even when they are full, they always have an eery feel of abandonment. But an emptyparking lot…there is nothing more stark than an empty parking lot. I find it thought provoking, the Sisyphean function and the loneliness of the parking lot.

The night sky deepens. The parking lot is indifferent to time. The next Super Harvest Moon (that is, a Harvest Moon that coincides with the Fall Equinox) will take place in 2019.

I hope someone’s claimed these cars by then.

What about you? Got  any good parking lots near you?

By the way, this month’s painting lesson will be about Sun Sets. I’ll paint a September sun set this weekend and put the step-by-step instructions up here on Monday. Ah, September: it’s all about the fading light.

2 comments to Harvest Moon

  • I found my favorite fall color of this year in my local grocery store parking lot yesterday. I couldn’t see the parking lot for the tree! So beautiful. If you want to take a peek at Pacific Northwest fall color I posted a photo of the tree on my blog today.

  • Deborah

    Most of the parking lots around here look like they are based on a 3 yr old’s crayon scribble — an obstacle course getting in and out that I find very annoying.

    But I know the feel of lots like the one you describe, and I realized the ones I can think of do seem to connect with commuting: the lot at the ferries in Bellingham WA most recently felt like that. A sort of mystery, a liminal state between here and there, lingers in those lots.

    But here we have some intriguing odd lots, user-created — dirt tracks down to a place by Blackiston creek where people park and fish; a gravel indentation in front of one of the utility towers on top of “The Knobs” — a ridge that provides a wonderful view of the Ohio Valley.

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