The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Creativity in the City

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Crossing the street on Penn. Stopping to read the sign that read, ‘Catcalling is Harassment it’s never okay.’ Note to all those who think it’s a compliment. On the bench sitting beside a gentleman with BO crunching potato chips hidden inside an Aldi’s bag. Waiting for the bus. “When’s it coming?” he asked. “Twelve minutes,” I said, looking at the app on my phone.

Never been to the Three Rivers Arts Festival. But last evening I walked beneath a rainbow sky of umbrellas. Three young women staging a lie-in on the promenade. No police needed. This was not a protest but an appreciative upward view of the installation. I walked past artists with pottery and paper cutting and unique animals created with jute. I wanted to buy a jute dragon, but alas, did not. I stopped at paintings and sifted through photographs for sale. “Do you have this photograph in the matted 5 x 7?” I asked the photographer. “I think I sold the last one. I might have one in my studio in New Jersey,” he said. I left without a haunting photograph of a hillside of wooden crosses appearing to be stacked on top of each other. A hillside crowded with the dead overlooking Sarajevo. Moving on. I stopped then to listen to a young woman sitting on the ground playing a hand pan (Not her in this YouTube video). Beautiful. Do street musicians make a living? Or is it enough to share their talents and hope for some discovery? Next stop. A leather craftsman. I saw Homestead Leather LLC on his card thinking him local but then saw East Petersburg. “East Petersburg, near Lancaster?” I asked. “You’re good,” he said. “My daughter lived in Lancaster,” I replied. He didn’t compliment me on pronouncing Lancaster correctly as someone else had last weekend.  I don’t think that was his place of origin. He said he had been in the military for years. My last shopping stop was a jewelry stand whose artist attracted me first with her long red crocheted mermaid skirt. It was wonderful, work of her sister-in-law. Her filigree jewelry equally beautiful. I bought orange earrings. She said, “I have the same style with other stones,” she said. “No, orange is my color,” I said. “Me too,” she said as her hand swept over a painting of orange sky. Before I paid she showed me a book with photos of her daughters and the hiking trip she took last summer through national parks. She pointed to inspirations in nature for her designs. I left Nataliya of the red crocheted mermaid skirt feeling saturated in creativity.

In Point Park State Park, I stopped to listen to a hip-hop band (Sorry, didn’t get the name) that embraced a crowd watching the live performance broadcast to a screen. A woman moved to the music signing the words. Along the edge of the park a row of stands with food, expensive food. I suppose it is expensive to set up a stand in this venue. At the fountain I sat a while watching and feeling the mist as the water rose and fell. A young woman I would see later on the bus drummed on a red square box. Another musical instrument I had never seen.

I walked back through Market Square to Revel + Roost for a crab cake with brown butter asparagus and cumin scented wheat berries and arugula. And don’t forget the blackberry vinaigrette. I sat at a table to the open street watching the hockey game on two large screens. People cheered as the Penguins scored. But not everyone. Two men sat in front of me. One with earphones and his back to the screen. The other had his phone in hand. They never looked at the screen or talked to each other, as if two strangers sitting together. When I finished, the waiter asked, “Are you staying for the game or the check?” The check. But I felt the enthusiasm a crowd can generate for a sport I don’t even follow. 0-2 when I left. 0-6 final score. The Penguins won game 5.

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