When Gary and I went to Manhattan several weekends ago, we spent part of our first (cold) night in the city walking the neon-lit streets of Times Square. Although I’d visited Times Square before, I’d never wandered its streets at night on foot. Tonight while Gary and I celebrate the New Year safely ensconced here in humble little Keene (which does, nevertheless, drop a lit ball at midnight while marking the occasion with fireworks), over half a million alcohol-warmed revelers will crowd Times Square to greet the arrival of 2005 in properly boisterous fashion.

Although Gary’s Times Square photos are sharper and brighter than mine (and that’s sparing any comment about that first photo of Yours Truly hamming it up with a pizzeria mannequin, or Gary’s final shot of Annette and me leaving him in the dust), I cherish my snapshots for several reasons. Looking at these images, I remember how cold we were as we stood in front of the illuminated Prudential Financial marquee waiting for it to cycle through various advertisements culminating in a glowing shot of falling snowflakes. (Again, Gary’s camera captured that precise moment whereas mine did not.)

Standing slack-jawed with camera in hand like any gawking tourist, I didn’t notice all of the nuances of Times Square until I transferred my digipix to my laptop and reviewed them afterward in (warm) leisure. I chuckled to realize, for instance, that there is an Armed Forces Recruiting Station smack dab in the middle of the madness of Times Square, as this photo reveals:

And near the center of this last image, I love the red sign (visible as well as at the far left of the second photo, above, of a tourist-laden bicycle-rickshaw) that reads “No Stopping Anytime.”

At the heart of the City That Never Sleeps, Times Square is a perpetual motion machine, with taxis and tourists and recruiters and rickshaws buzzing and blurring without ceasing: moving, moving, moving. Tonight for New Year’s Eve, those of us in Manhattan or Keene or points elsewhere raise a glass to celebrate the fact that Father Time himself never stops for anyone. The ultimate rickshaw-driver, Time keeps pedaling, wheels perpetually turning, whether you’re smart enough to step out of the way or not. Wherever you and yours are ensconced, here’s hoping you’re warm, safe, and looking ahead as Time and his traffic honks and hurries into 2005.