Maria's life as an artist was interrupted for some years, when it resumed – about the time we met – one of the first things she made was her famous "yes no" dress, which made it's public debut at the Art Harvest at Gardenworks in Salem, N.Y., our first joint project of encouragement. The dress reflect Maria's ambivalence about showing her art, about love and about men. I did not miss it's implications. When I met Maria she was a "yes-no" girl when it came to relationships, I took the dress as a warning.
Fortunately for me, the "no" became "yes," at least in terms of our relationship, the dress is now hanging outside of her studio, it is a powerful reminder to me of the nature of life, and of the importance to say yes to love and opening up.
Friends, I wanted to update you on my subscription program, which has been vital in supporting the blog and my photography and helping me maintain and improve this site in a time of great upheaval and change. I thank you. I wanted to let you all know of some changes we are making for your convenience. All of the subscription money goes to the blog and my photography, and that does not cover all of it.
We are updating the subscription program so that you will be notified when subscriptions of any amount are up for renewal. You will have the option to renew or opt out, depending on your feelings about the blog and your own financial situation. This will happen in a few days. It is easy and possible to cancel your subscriptions at any time – just go to your account on the subscription page and hit the cancel button. But this new system will make it easier, you will get an e-mail and can decide each year if you want to keep subscribing. If you want to opt out – or renew - you can just click on a button.
Hope that is helpful.
The subscription program is very secure, there are two security companies that maintain all the traffic into and out of it, there have been no security issues, and since there are no nude photos or large amounts of money, it does not seem much of a target. The blog is free to anyone who cannot afford to pay for it, and will remain so. I do appreciate being paid for my work, it is a necessity, not a courtesy if the blog is to be maintained and updated. I could not possibly take the time to research and focus on stories like the New York Carriage Horses and on my photography without them.
Subscriptions are a new idea for blogs and writings, payment options are growing and helping many creative people continue their work. Some people resist the idea that they should pay for content online, that is not a viable option if they wish to have good things to read and listen to.
People can subscribe through secure credit card systems or through Paypal. Those who are not comfortable subscribing online can pay by check via mail: Bedlam Farm, c/o Post Office Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. When you subscribe, you have complete control over your account, I cannot authorize or cancel a subscription, For your own protection, no one but you can handle your money. I do not check to see who subscribes, I have no idea of people are subscribing or not, or canceling or not, although I am notified by e-mail of new subscribers and I try to thank each one personally.
One woman from North Dakota cancels her subscription every time I write something she disagrees with, then renews it when she agrees. This is why I don't wish to know who is subscribing.
Subscriptions are available for $3 a month, $5 a month, or $60 a year. The amounts are meant to give readers different financial options, there is no difference in the content available to you whether you pay $3, $5, $60 a month or nothing.
Payment for work online is still a new and strange idea for many. A very small fraction of the nearly 400,000 unique users pay any subscription fee at all. That is your choice, of course, but writers do need to be paid for their work if good content is to remain on the Internet. Publishing is in a great transition, book writers have to change too, so do our ideas about paying for things. The subscriptions go to pay for my work, not for my life.
I am very grateful to those of you who subscribe, you have made an enormous difference in my work and life. Thank you.
We move our morning walks around every few days, we are drifting north, up into the hills. There are so many beautiful places to walk here, we are spreading our wings. Red and Lenore are having a good time walking with us, they are great dogs to be with, they stay with us, love to go anywhere, they don't run off. Lenore is now pretending to chase rabbits, but she doesn't chase them farm. She is a Lab, and left unwatched, may eat some unspeakable things, which can show up later.
On Labor Day, I posted the first of my carriage horse dreams. This is the second. Sometimes, when I am in New York, or in the night, the horses speak to me, they ask me to tell their true story. Every day I receive messages from all over the world from people sharing their carriage horse dreams and memories with me. The Internet gives voice to the voiceless, the people the politicians and the angry people ignore and the journalists never quote. I thank them for entrusting their stories to me. Jane sent me this true story last night, on behalf of her beloved husband, Roger. How extraordinary a thing it is to me for them to think about the horses at this time in their lives.
The Lover Mourns The Loss Of Love And Magic
Pale brows, still hands and dim hair,
I had a beautiful friend
And dreamed that the old despair
Would end in love in the end:
She looked in my heart one day
And saw your image was there;
She has gone weeping away.
- W.B. Yeats
"Dear Jon Katz, my husband Roger and I want to thank you for your writing about the carriage horses, their story strikes very close to home for us. Roger apologizes for not writing you directly, he has a brain tumor and is unable to communicate with you himself. He has tried to contact the mayor's office on behalf of the horses but no one will speak to him there or answer his messages. We both wanted to share our story with you, it is especially timely for us and important.
We live in lower Manhattan, we have lived in New York all of our lives, except for our years traveling overseas. Roger was in the foreign service, working for the U.S. State Department. We have been married nearly 50 years, and Roger and I have both come to understand that our wonderful life and time together is coming to an end soon. His tumor is advancing rapidly, we are in the final stages of this disease. We are both in our 80′s, Roger has never been one to avoid reality, he does not fear death but he fears losing his wonderful mind.
We both love the horses and this story is important to us as they struggle for their existence.
But I know you are busy, you must get so many messages.
Here is our story. Roger proposed to me in the late l960s, another time. The first thing we did after that was to take a ride in Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage, it was so wonderfully romantic, we brought a bottle of wine and gave the driver $50 and told him to ride and ride, and he did, to the Bethesda Fountain and back, we rode through the beautiful park on a shiny black carriage pulled by this beautiful big brown horse, the driver, a middle-aged Irishman named Paddy, he understood love and lovers, and was a lover of poetry and so are Roger and I, Roger studied in England after Harvard, he loved Yeats.
So did our driver. In fact, Roger read a Yeats poem to me in the carriage that night, we were snuggled under a colorful wool blanket that Paddy gave us: The poem was titled "He Bids His Beloved Be At Peace", I have never forgotten it:
"I hear the Shadowy Horses, their long manes a-shake,
Their hoofs heavy with tumult, their eyes glimmering white;
The North unfolds above them clinging, creeping night,
The East her hidden joy before the morning break,
The West weeps in pale dew and sighs passing away,
The South is pouring down roses of crimson fire"
You see, Mr. Katz, Roger and I love one another a great deal, today just as much as 50 years ago, and we often read Yeats and other poets to one another, and always when we take a carriage ride in the park. We try to do with that with our children on Christmas week, it is a cherished tradition for our family. We so hate to think of a Christmas without those beautiful horses in Central Park.
Roger was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago, two months ago he asked if we could take a ride in the park while he could still appreciate it, he wanted to touch a horse one more time, and look up and see the buildings sprouting up over the trees. We met a remarkable man there, a carriage driver. Roger believes he might have been Israeli, he spoke with an accent, he spoke so mystically and beautifully of the horses, he saw that Roger was ill and he gave us his card with his cell phone number on it.
He told us to call him whenever Roger wished to come to the park and he would stop whatever he was doing and meet us at the Bethesda Fountain. That is Roger's favorite fountain ever since our ride there together. We had a van driver who would take us there. I don't feel at liberty to give you the driver's name, but it was the name of an Angel. It is so hurtful to see the ugly things said about the drivers, that they are cruel and greedy. I think our driver is an angel, he would not harm a butterfly. These rides made such a difference to us this summer. They gave Roger a reason to go outside, they revived and encouraged him in ways even I could not. The horses seem to bring him back to life. We would call, and we would appear at the appointed time, and there our angel would be with his beautiful black horse, waiting for us by the fountain. He would not accept any money from us, no matter how much we insisted.
Roger rode in the park perhaps a half-dozen times – he is no longer able to go outside – and each time I saw him smile and look up in the sky in wonder, his eyes and heart filled with love and memory, he so loved the park, it was such a gift to him, to us. To see him smile so was a miracle. One of those times we rode in the park with our angel, I brought a book of poetry, I read Roger the remainder of "His Beloved Be At Peace." Roger loves that poem, it seems so appropriate now:
"O vanity of Sleep, Hope, Dream, endless Desire,
The Horses of Disaster plunge in the heavy clay:
Beloved, let your eyes half close, and your heart beat
Over my heart, and your hair fall over my breast,
Drowning love's lonely hour in deep twilight of rest,
And hiding their tossing manes and their tumultuous feet."
Roger and the carriage driver spoke on the telephone this week, it is now difficult for Roger to speak. Our driver says the carriage horse drivers are worried and discouraged about the mayor's promise to banish them and the horses from New York. They are tired of the long and painful struggle.
Roger told him – he spoke slowly but made himself understood – that it has always been true of human beings that some will take any beautiful thing and make it ugly, and the better parts of us had to always remember to see the beauty in things. Yeats knew that, he said. He told his new friend that when we can't see the beauty, our souls shrivel and die. That is how Roger and I try and feel, it is how we have lived our lives, although it is sometimes difficult. This is the story that Roger wishes to tell to the mayor, but we are not blind or naive people, we know that no one really wants to hear it, no one really wants to talk with us in the mayor's office.
On our last ride in the park – it was the beginning of July – we met our angel one last time with his horse and carriage. We said goodbye, we all knew we would not see one another again. We gave the horse a carrot and an apple, the horse put his head to Roger's. Our driver gave us flowers, and hugged both of us. Our angel broke down and cried, and said he was sorry that he could not control his tears, we did not need his sorrow.
Roger took his hand and held it for a minute or so. He was not able to speak that day. Then our driver gave Roger a volume of poetry, he read this poem to us on our last ride together. It is called "When You Are Old:"
"When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
and nodding by the fire,
take down this book,
and slowly read,
and dream of the soft look,
your eyes had once and of their shadows deep."
So that is our story, our own carriage horse dream, only it is true. I would so love to tell Roger that the horses will remain in the park, for me, our children, and the many others, the countless others who love them as much as do. I will always hear the shadowy horses in my dreams, they are a part of us. We are grateful to you for hearing our story, we hope it is of value to you, and especially, to the horses who have so lifted our spirits and graced our love and lives.
I thank Jane for trusting me to tell her story, I am grateful to be able to share it and I will make certain it is heard. I know who her driver is, he is an angel that is familiar to me and to others, he is a New York Carriage Driver who is much loved. In her message to me Jane mentioned another Yeats poem, "The Pity Of Love," she said she had lost it some years ago and could not find it. I dug it out on the Internet, and I offer it back to her as a thank you for her dream. Godspeed to her and to Roger, she reminds us that the horses are about so much more than money and power and the arrogance of human beings.
The Pity of Love
"A pity beyond all telling
is hid in the heart of love:
The folk who are buying and selling;
The clouds on their journey above;
The cold wet winds ever blowing;
And that shadowy hazel grove
Where mouse-grey waters are flowing
Threaten the head that I love."