Saturday, March 7, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

Tonight is the night that we are commanded to re-set our clocks. Daylight savings time will begin. I will doubly re-set my clock, since tomorrow is the day that I will return to work. Meanwhile, I will try to stretch this day to its limits.

Spring is toying with us today in New York. The warm temperature has already melted any traces of last week's snow, and by early afternoon we are promised a high around 65 degrees F. Wise readers can do the C conversion.

Yesterday was still a bit on the cool side, and I had the huge pleasure of spending the morning with a friend from my childhood and her husband, who were visiting from out of town. I was so lucky to have the day off, and to be able to join them for a tour of that remarkable Bonnard exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, followed by a leisurely and very chatty lunch.

Isn't it grand to reunite with friends after a long, long time, and find that you just pick up where you left off? That is exactly what I felt happened yesterday.

After reluctantly saying bye bye to my pals, I walked back across the Park, dodging the puddles that were accumulating as the snowy, icy edges of the meandering pathways melted. It was funny to see various red and yellow signs warning of icy situations on steps, and advising folks not to try to walk across the lake. The ducks who winter near the banks of the lake seemed very happy to have their waterworld back.

I will share a view across the lake with the towers of Central Park South in the distance. You can see how grey a day can be hereabouts.

Even so, this vista seems tranquil to me. No sounds of cars. Not too many sounds of people, either. Mainly just some bird chirps, and some squirrel scurrying. In another few weeks, if the weather gods favor us, the trees will begin to have that faint new leaf green haze and then ... leafing will really get underway.

I did see one forsythia bush in its startling yellow blaze. Just one. Its spot must be very sheltered and must catch lots of sun ... on a sunny day.

What were in bloom along many banks were snowdrops. I thought that you all might like to see some New York snowdrops. I cannot tell you which variety these might be.

Whatever their proper name, I just find them charming.

Back home again, I did manage to get out my sketchbook and did several drawings of the primulas I bought last week. It is a testimony to the posies' strength that so far they are surviving the testing environment that this apartment provides. I love drawing flowers while really, really examining them, and thereby truly learning how their petals are shaped, how those petals meet in the middle, how the flowers meet the stems, how a leaf meets the stem and the flower. It is a way to truly appreciate the grace that nature brings us.

It's fun to do some really careful drawings (not quite up to botanical studies ... not at all) and then to do other drawings that are looser, but still capture the character of that particular plant. Maybe I was drawing under the influence of seeing those Bonnard paintings at the Met.

Having explored primulas with eye and pencil, later yesterday afternoon I got out my watercolors and did a very improvised birthday card for my uncle. I always like to make cards, rather than buy them ... if time permits. This card was a jumble of watercolor and rubber stamping. I had no idea where the design was going, but the result did please me. Sort of crazy, but with a vaguely vintage look. I think that it will make my uncle smile.

Let's see, what else has been created around here. I finished the granny square afghan and think that I got the color distribution right. Even though I thought that project would use up lots of my leftover yarn, I find that there is still plenty, plenty of yarn in various baskets and bags.

And so I do near the time for that clock reset. Still have groceries to buy, a bit more housecleaning to do. Definitely plan to get that sketchbook out one more time this afternoon.

Hoping everyone will have a fine weekend.


  1. Hi Frances, New York looks and sound so romantic. There seem to be many places to visit that are of interest to many different people with various hobbies. Reuniting with old friends is lovely isn't it. You always have so much to chat about and many surprises along the way, catching up with news.

    Best wishes, CJ xx

  2. Your descriptions of your views of NY make it so much more companiable than the aggressive views we tend to get portrayed in the media.
    A lovely restful blog Frances - do we get to see the picture of the primulas?

  3. Mmmm, I wondered if we might be treated to a photo of your sketches!
    You sound as if you have relaxed and enjoyed your week, I'm so glad.

  4. We know all about grey skies here in the NW of England! So you alter your clocks now? I cannot understand time but find the idea so fascinating. We "Spring forward" with our clocks on the 29th of March.

    Your descriptions of Central Park remind me always of Helene Hanff and her letters to Woman's Hour. She would have loved the snowdrops.

    Are you going to share your painting with us or are you hiding your light under a bush?

    The Wedgewood sale sounds interesting, maybe there will be some good bargains around? I think the company will survive but manufacturing in England looks unlikely.

    Enjoy the rest of your holiday, I hope you return to work refreshed.

  5. Ah, brings back memories of Central Park and those squirrels!
    I do wish you would post pictures of your art, Frances - I do love it so much and would dearly love to see your primulas. Ah, just seen that SBS and ED share my desire..... jxx

  6. Frances, again, love your writing! Inspires me. And love the photos of the Park and those darling snowdrops. :) Hope your return to work is an easy one. xxx seashell

  7. Gosh, I didn't know your day light saving started so early...
    I love reuniting with old friends, so much to catch up on.
    I'm hoping to do alot of that next week in London...
    Love your blog.
    Take care

  8. A fascinating insight to a town I probably know best through 'Friends' and Centrel Perk never mind Park! Lovely to see you get drifts of snowdrops like us.

    I love the connection you have with the 'countryside' but with the huge towers just across the way too.

    Do please show us some drawings, as I was reading down I kept hoping that you would show us a glimpse of a picture or card.

    Lovely blog Frances. Hope work tomorrow doesn't feel too onerous.

  9. Thanks for sharing your day, Frances. It's good to be reminded, through your posts, that New York is more than a financial centre, more than a jumble of traffic and high rises - you bring us into your neighbourhood and make the city seem somehow softer.
    Do you think you'll be showing us some of your recent paintings and drawings?

  10. Hello Frances, I found your blog via Jude (Cariad in Crete) and am so glad I did, for I love what I see. Will definitely be following you from now onwards. And I would love to see your sketches. Ann (from UK)

  11. I'd love to see pictures of your primulas and your 'granny square afghan.' Glad you were able to spend some of your precious time off creatively.

  12. Hello Frances. Ditto to the picture requests! Lovely to catch up with you - it's been a while.xx

    BTW - I was stressing that I couldn't believe we were due to put our clocks forward this weekend, and then I realised my calendar was from the US!!!

  13. I'm jealous of you seeing the Bonnard exhibition. I am so with you on the rare joys of unstructured time.

  14. I feel I have come back home, it seems such a long time ago that we all met via our blogs, yet reading one of yours again, it only seems like yesterday, thank you Frances,you make me ashamed that I have gone away from the daily writings of this and that and nothing in particular, your blogs are so interesting, and I too would love to see your work.
    With love Blossom

  15. How wonderful to see the Bonnard!
    Will have to rush there on my return.
    Sorry the wi-fi gods wouldn't send me your message.
    Looking forward to home now.
    See you after the 15th.
    Sending you some India sunshine.

  16. I love Bonnard, but I often wonder if his wife ever got to have a wash without him drawing her? That's a lovely way to investigate a flower, by drawing it - it does make you look really closely.

    Well, Frances, you have certainly made the most of your time away from work. We are off on a short city break and hope to take in lots of art so you have whetted my appetite. I hope you haven't been too rushed at work.

  17. warm temperatures? New York, one of our weekend staff has just returned from a 4 day geography trip with school.

  18. Came back hoping for a new blog and those pictures!!

  19. Good morning, Frances!

    I read through your vacation day diary. I hope your days back at work turn out to be enjoyable after all!

    Have you read "84, Charing Cross Road" in the meantime? I discovered this book through the movie with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins (not to forget Judi Dench!), which I heartily recommend to you in case you haven't seen it yet.

  20. Oh dear Frances,

    How could I have missed this. A really lovely post.

    I thought at first that our clocks were to go forward like your's in NY Frances, then thought no I had got it wrong.

    Lovely pictures of Central Park, and Snowdrops. Dreaming that perhaps one day I will get to see for myself.