A Phoenix Burning

Early Morning

When Zan and I got married, we moved into an apartment in Downtown Saratoga Springs and remained there  for nearly six years.  Living in Saratoga Springs, one develops a true love/hate relationship with the Saratoga Race Track.  The first day, you love it, and the rest of the Meet is all about hate.  The crowds, the traffic, the bats that invade apartment buildings once the stables are opened, the infinite wait at your favorite restaurants, the no-table-situation at the cafe you live in year-round…the fact that you must run all your errands between the hours of noon and five because that’s when all the tourists are at the track, the fact that you must stay away from Downtown and the Mall on Tuesdays because that’s the day when the track is dark.  However, when you move away, all the hate fades, and you long every August to be back in Saratoga to soak up the energy the opening of the track brings to the city.  You fondly remember being stuck in traffic at crosswalks while the horses cross the road to the stables….you fondly remember getting up in the early misty morning to go to your favorite cafe before all the tourists hit the streets…you remember how good you got at avoiding the crowds and remember with pride that you were once “a local.” 

We left Saratoga twelve years ago to move back to my hometown.  We are very happy here, and although I have no regrets, I feel my old home’s gravitational pull all the time.  Though I can’t fathom leaving here, at times I wonder if we might end up back there someday, as though it’s an inevitable fate.

I share with you my very favorite time of day in August at the track in Saratoga Springs…6:30am.  All is quiet, the town is just beginning to stir, and yet the track is alive in the cool morning sunshine—the horses exercising and getting ready for their day, the trainers intimately sharing time on the vacant grounds with their charges.  It’s peaceful, it’s beautiful, and it’s worth the early morning wake-up to visit this historic place before it’s filled with screaming, smoking, betting race fans.  This is the Saratoga I love.

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5 responses

  1. karma

    Have you been to Saratoga recently for a visit or are these older pictures? Very nice.
    Your post reminds me of an “historic” time in my life too. Since you are from NY, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this place, but I used to work at a living history museum here in MA called “Old Sturbridge Village” – it represents life in rural New England in the 1830’s. Occasionally I worked as a, don’t laugh now, milkmaid there. I had to come in early before most of the other employees, way before the tourists, and begin the morning milking of the cows. As I made my way through the village to the farmhouse in the early morning, the “pictures” were similar: morning mist rising over the farm, warm breath puffing from the animals’ noses and a general feeling of tranquility.

    September 4, 2009 at 7:01 am

    • “Snuck” out of the house all alone yesterday morning in my sweatpants and drove down. Soul Therapy! 🙂
      And I LOVE Old Sturbridge Village. I can imagine that it would be the same sort of feeling in the early morning. You and Shrew have something in common with the whole living history museum experiences! Very cool.

      September 4, 2009 at 7:04 am

  2. Love those first shots with the mist/fog and the horse… awesome!

    September 4, 2009 at 4:13 pm

  3. Shrewspeaks

    YOWZA! These are classics. I adore the close up of the jockey…intimate. The series is stunning. The chairs and benches have character as well. The second one is a frame worthy…magazine worthy shot.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    • You know Shrew, I love that one of the jockey too—I was about three feet away from him on the fence, and I swear he didn’t even notice me. He went by a few times, but was so in tune to his horse, that I don’t think he saw me there. It was weird, like he was concentrating on some private, silent conversation they were having. Very cool to witness.

      September 5, 2009 at 6:21 am

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