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Ellen Agnew


Crows cruise dawn to duskó
could be Nature's vision of
urban renewal

One of my favorite places, where I first met the crows, was when I would go to the symphony. I park by the corner of Fayette and State streets, and there's a park there, and when I would look up into the trees of the park, they'd be just black with crows.

Now I see them in the morning, around 6:00, when I'm heading out of the city, and then around 5:30 in the evening, when I'm coming back in. I like the regularity of it. You can almost tell time by the crows, and what's neat about it is how it happens to coincide with my routine. It's like the crows are commuting, too.

I like bringing nature into the city, letting nature take over a bit more, and not thinking of it negatively. It's nice to have touches with nature, aside from the zoo.

Anxious to take flight,
chrome decked mares at the curb
await Dino knights

One of the things that makes the Dinosaur exciting, once the weather turns nice, is all the great bikes outside, all lined up, polished, showing off. The Dino originally was a bikersí bar, but now, of course, itís a generally popular spot. I think itís fun to see the bikes still there. They make the place seem like an old saloon, with horses tied up outside. I used to go to a lot of old western movies with my dad, and that was a common scene: the horses all tied up and the cowboys going through the swinging doors into the thick of whatever was happening in the saloon. I imagine the horses getting anxious, not wanting to be tied up too long, and I see the motorcycles that way, too. Itís like, ďYeah, well, Iím here, but letís get out on the road!Ē

Where tomatoes blushó
as shoppers caress their flesh
The Farmers Market

Iím addicted to the farmerís market. I absolutely love it. In fact, whenever I have friends in town, and it happens to be on the weekend, why, I get them to the farmers market, because I just think itís one of Syracuseís real showpieces.

And I have collections of photos that Iíve done there. I love to see the farmers. I love to see people looking seriously at all the different things, trying to make up their minds. You know, which head of broccoli is the best. Especially around here, in August and September, when the tomatoes look really great, and theyíre so many of them that people do have to make up their minds which they want. These big decisions of the week. So they do check things out. And they always look so colorful, really almost seductive.

Thornden Park roses
remind campus revelers
of simpler pleasures

When I first came to Syracuse, in the late 1960s, I was living off Ackerman Ave., an area where so many Syracuse artists start out, so I would have occasion to drive through Ostrom Ave.

Iíve always loved the rose garden there. It looks so sedate and lovely that you could picture ladies in garden party dresses from the 19th Century congregating there. Then you have the dorms, the fraternity houses, and, what I saw around Ackerman, the party scene of that whole area.

I always thought the juxtaposition was a little bit of a hoot. But I thought it was a nice one, because it acknowledges that there are moments when students do need peace and introspection, which gardens are always good for.

Nature's gift of snow
allows us to slow our pace,
take time to reflect

I love winter. And I always giggle to myself as I hear people complain about it so much. But Iíve always lived in a northern climate, and my fondness for it stems from making snow tunnels, igloos, castles, angels, and of shoveling snowóstill my favorite household chore.

As an artist, Iím fascinated by snowís ambiguity: the delicacy of its floating flakes in contrast with dangers it presents as it accumulates.

And I really do use winter as a time to catch up on things. Tending to overextend, I love the acceptable excuse snow provides for me to say, ďI think Iíll stay home tonight.Ē Then I can curl up with a book or write moreófreely do some of the things I donít allow myself time for as much as I would like.

Flea market treasures
found midst heaps of castóoff junk
start a second life.

I am kind of addicted to going to the flea market. I tend to wander around aimlessly with a bagel and a cup of coffee like an anthropologist. I like to see the things that people are getting rid of and I almost always end up with some treasure myself. Itís fun. Itís almost like you bring home a part of this person youíve never meet and form a bond with someone out in the six degrees of separation.

Iíve been writing poetry all my life in some form or another. And I teach writing, so thatís a good excuse. When my students are writing I always like to write along with them in the hopes that I inspire them to see that it isnít just a one shot operation. Itís something thatís in your spirit forever.

Milkweed and sumac
maintain the integrity
of August's garden

Iíve always loved gardens, both those arranged to accent homes, but even more the ones that come each season without our help, like those along the Erie Canal or Onondaga Creek walk. Natureís garden just happens by the wind and the rain and the animals, yet the results are beautiful contrasts such as the purple aster amidst the goldenrod. Sumac is my favorite particularly when its wine red color contrasts the nearby ash colored milkweed pods. Inspired by nature, Iíve attempted to make my garden in the heart of the city like a woodland scene, and I get much help from the squirrels and sparrows.


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