It’s become a tradition for me to walk about in the snow each winter and take photographs of downtown Knoxville. The twist this year was that our initial snow wasn’t a snow at all, but was the most ice I believe I’ve ever seen at one time. I missed the last big ice storm locally. It fell in early 1982 and I didn’t make Knoxville my home until August of that year. The stories were still vivid.
Walking around downtown after the ice fell (the first six photographs shown here) was very remarkable. The photographs and the naked ice detected very little difference in appearance between the two. The foot could tell the difference, however. I became quite taken with the reflection of the sky and opposing buildings in the side of the BB&T tower and wondered if I might not get a better view if I walked into the actual plaza.
Naturally, it was chained off, which I took to be a suggestion that everyone else should stay out. What could go wrong? So, I walked almost to the spot that seemed most likely to give me the shot I wanted and then I took flight. Somehow I impulsively threw my camera hand into the air. It still whiplashed downward and struck the ice, but not nearly as hard as my body. The lens hood popped in half, but the lens and body were fine. My body did fine until a couple of days later when I became pretty sore. Overall a win, though I never got the shot.
Arlo Guthrie stopped in Knoxville Friday night and, with the ice on the ground and snow predicted, a number of people gave away tickets. As a recipient of one of those tickets, I can report that the show was as warm and vibrant as the street was cold and bleak outside. I wasn’t allowed to take my camera inside, so I only took the outside photo as the show ended and the snow began to fall. One thing that puzzled me was the fact that after a Monday ice event, many of the sidewalks on Gay Street had not been cleared. I walked in the street most of the way back home.
The other photographs, beginning with the UT Conference Center were taken Saturday after we had a proper snow. Footing remained tricky as much of that ice still lurked just beneath the surface, but it was better. The temperatures had finally risen above the single digits, so even that made for a more comfortable walk. I stopped in at Flow and found it largely filled and a vinyl copy of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s first album playing on the stereo. Coffee and the first band I ever loved. Not bad.
I watched a mini-avalanche as all the snow fell off one side of the Mary Boyce Temple house. Brian waved out the window just after it fell. It must have been loud inside the house, as well. I’ll be glad when construction begins on the south side of the bridge because the hole where the hospital used to be makes me more sad than I’d expected. Church Street United Methodist Church is a beautiful subject anytime. I’m a fool for arches, unless they are over a McDonald’s.
I’m not sure I’ve ever had Rachmaninoff on the blog before. It’s not real clear in the photograph, but he had a spray of snow on his head that looked like white hair. Someone needs to erect a statue of Hank Williams and George Jones in that same area and we could build a tourist draw on artists whose deaths are associated with our city. Morbid. Yeah, but I would love to have statues of those two.
Like many Americans (is it as true of other nationalities?), I’m drawn to train tracks, trains and stations, so I spent a good bit of time on that end of town photographing all of the above. Icicles dangling from the train cars impressed me. The icicle award has to go to Urban Bar and Corner Cafe. Pretty impressive and cool, isn’t it? It’s one of several of my favorite structures in the Old City.
Java was packed and warm. Sean told me they managed to open every day last week, which is impressive and was true of a number of businesses downtown, though many of them shortened hours. As I walked past, I realized that “Envious Composure” won’t be with us much longer as the art is switched out in early spring. I’ll miss it. I passed through Market Square, spoke with friends and stopped into Just Ripe where Kristen had braved the elements to make her last batch of biscuits for the public out of the store before completely handing over the keys. I secured two Dixie Biscuits and headed home to the warmth.