Many pictures have a hidden story. We can all see how the river softens and reflects the city lights, but this picture has a mental soundtrack for me. A wisp of smoke towards the top right brings back memories of the steam calliope playing its wavering tune of valediction to New Orleans as we paddle off up the Mississippi River on the other-worldly American Queen steamboat.
The shot below was supposed to show bats streaming out at dusk from their home under Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas. You might just make out the heads of some of the watchers peering from the top of the bridge on the left, but you’ll have to take my word that there were bats – hundreds of thousands of them – all with the invisibility cloak of my faulty technique. But no matter.
While scoring nil out of a hundred thousand for the bats, by serendipity, I’ve ended up with this Gustav Klimt style view of the city and its people gathered on boats, bridge and banks to witness the little creatures emerging from their bat bridge.
Expectancy fascinates me: that rapt feeling when everyone is focused on the same thing. It dates from one Friday night in my student days. I’d been waiting on the platform of a patchily-lit English railway station after the train had long been delayed, then delayed again. There were a few other commuters there, all singletons, politely spaced out in commuter fashion, each in a world of their own. Before the days of ticker tape station update messages or phone apps to tell us the train is still at Hall i’ th’ wood, the train could have been anywhere.
I became aware of a palpable force replacing the general air of weariness. Collective human willpower. Everyone was willing the train to arrive, despite not having the slightest jot of influence. The feeling hung heavy in the night air and I marvelled at it. Since then I have always understood that wishes have weight.
It may be pure fancy, but it seems to me that a similar communal feeling has mysteriously been captured in this picture of Austin, a bat loving city in its moment of reverie, its people drawn for the reassurance of nature’s nightly ritual.
Submissions for this week’s photo challenge show H2O as ice, water and steam. Here, the river is liquid gold, as exotic as the moment.