Last night I went by the Loop Station Post Office, where we get our mail, and saw that the Calder Flamingo was illuminated (it’s not always that way at night – honestly, I think when it comes to turning on the lights, sometimes they just forget). As I am always saying, this is one of my favorite places in the world. And last night the setting was especially fine – with people contentedly streaming home, holiday decorations glittering, the air moving gently. It was a lovely night to be in the Loop.
This photo was dumb luck. The sleek reflective surface isn’t the pavement of Federal Plaza – I had steadied the camera on top of one of the marble-topped counters inside the post office, a practical spot where people take care of the things that are little but important, like stamping an envelope or opening a bill. (The counter is original to the building and was also designed by Mies.) At first, I felt the reflection made Flamingo more toylike (awww, look how cute!), but that feeling was quickly replaced by another: a sense that this monument was sentient – a powerful creature browsing in the night, watching the nighttime traffic with a bemused air.
Here’s another thing about this picture: no snow. Here in Chicago we have now gone 289 days without measurable snow. That is a historical record. Today, the meteorologists are claiming we will have snow tomorrow, and a lot of it. Well, maybe we will, who knows? The atmosphere has that bleached, austere quality that used to seem like a forerunner of snowfall, and the sun is a faint lightbulb behind a curtain. Maybe the next time I see Flamingo, it will have snow around its feet.