Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

0948Hours EDT

The Fears Have Washed Away

An eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) sitting on the wooden picnic table in our campsite at Hillsborough River State Park.

Campground Site 028, Hillsborough River State Park, Thonotosassa, Florida: 20 March 2016

part of the Hillsborough River State Park album

I am frequently surprised with how close some animals will approach during my encounters with them in nature. This was certainly the case during a March 2016 family camping trip to Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa, about thirty minutes northeast of Tampa, Florida. Although we saw and were in proximity to numerous animals during our visit, none were more up close and personal than the eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) that visited us in our campsite.

We were sitting around our campfire enjoying a pleasant Sunday afternoon in the woods when a curious squirrel descended a nearby tree and sat on the handrail of a small wooden bridge. It seemed to be checking us out and, much to our amusement, slowly crawled along the handrail and then lounged on it like a cat.

The squirrel then proceeded to jump off of the bridge and slowly circle and approach us from the ground. It then jumped onto the wooden picnic table and observed us from the table's bench opposite from our campfire circle. It seemed to be foraging for food but there was not much available, save for some seeds and acorns here and there, so the bold and brave approach seemed unnecessary although quite friendly.

Full of individuality, this squirrel exhibited a number of amusing behaviors that none of us had quite seen before in garden variety backyard squirrels. One of the behaviors that this squirrel repeated was lifting up its right paw and holding it close to its chest. It was terribly cute and although I was somewhat concerned at first that it might be hurt, we could detect no signs of sickness or injury.

It was not long before the squirrel jumped from the bench to the tabletop and once again executed its slow crawl maneuver to inch closer and closer to us. Within a minute it was laying flat on its belly at the edge of the table.

From the tabletop, the squirrel noticed some seeds and acorns that were on the bench closest to our campfire circle. I was sitting in a chair right next to this bench, but that did not dissuade the squirrel from jumping down to it and pausing to eat the small cache of food rained down from the trees overhead.

There have been so many other times where my camera gear was nowhere in sight when some creatures wandered into our campsite. As you might imagine, I was quite pleased that this was not the case on this occasion. Common, uncommon, large or small — I am always happy to get close portraits of wildlife in nature.

The Way You Look Tonight

Walking up the eastern terminus of Paderewski Drive on the approach to Buffalo Central Terminal (1929) in Buffalo, New York.

495 Paderewski Drive, Buffalo, New York: 28 June 2014

part of the Buffalo Central Terminal album

Operating as a passenger train station for fifty years, Buffalo Central Terminal (1929) in Buffalo, New York is a wonderful art deco facility featuring a fifteen-floor octagonal tower and high-ceilinged concourse with marble, tile and arched windows. A local landmark since its inception, the terminal has endured years of disuse, the stripping of its fixtures and damage from trespassers.

Built as a major transportation hub, two decades of prosperity were followed by a rapid decline in the 1950s as automobile and aircraft travel became popular. Buffalo Central Terminal continued operating, however the 1970 bankruptcy of Penn Central Railroad and Amtrak's 1979 decision to bypass caused the terminal's closure.

Unfortunately in 1981, the concourse bridge over the Belt Subdivision railroad lines was demolished to accommodate tall railcars. Later placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the slow and uphill restoration process of Buffalo Central Terminal did not begin until August 1997 when the property was transferred to Central Terminal Restoration Corporation.

Central Terminal Restoration Corporation Logo

Nearly two decades later, there is still an enormous amount of work to be done. Helping to fund the refurbishments, Central Terminal Restoration Corporation occasionally conducts limited public tours. I was luckily able to take one and although it was briefly mentioned soon after, I have yet to document the awesome experience of visiting Buffalo Central Terminal.

That article is currently in pre-production as I process photographs and conduct research, but my building excitement over a return to that Saturday evening in June 2014 necessitated this teaser in the meantime. For example, imagine my delight at discovering a vintage postcard featuring the same composition as the first photograph I took on the day of my visit.

The postcard (8C-K360) was produced in 1958, printed by Curt Teich and Company utilizing their Curteichcolor (1949) process and distributed by Ernest Gunzburger of Buffalo. The photo was taken from the center of the approach road to the terminal, the eastern terminus of Paderewski Drive — renamed in 1941 to honor Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860–1941).

I did find a few other postcards but they have different artwork. Pleased with my postcard photo, I decided to create a triptych by processing it three different ways. The standard version was developed using my normal process. The second is a moodier cut that highlights details and emphasizes the brooding clouds. Finally, the third variant is rendered in black and white.