Wednesday, September 2, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

How is it possible that this is September 2? Can the calendar be correct? Of course, the calendar is correct, and it even tells me that a full moon is just around the corner.

We are beginning to see the last days of our summer in this city.

I had an early start this morning, as I was required to attend a meeting of fellow shop managers, in one of our company's shops. It is a tiny shop in the East Village neighborhood.

My plan was to meet a friend for an early lunch after the meeting's scheduled 11:30 adjournment. If it were a weekend, we could call that brunch. Alas, the meeting ran very long, with lots of chat and questioning and answering.

By the time we did get up and out and said our goodbyes, I was very late to meet my friend a few blocks away in a cafe that we like. The cafe is the sort of relaxed spot that encourages all patrons to linger as long as they like.

Well. I arrived to find that my friend had kindly waited for me and and also had wisely already ordered lunch and almost finished it. Neither of us is a cell phone user. I was so embarrassed to be so late, so glad that she had waited.

I ordered my lunch and coffee, she ordered another cup of coffee. We got quickly into a great catch-up chat and visit. Finishing lunch, we decided to walk westward to the ... West Village, seeking out a park space where we might continue to relax and talk and talk some more.

The space where we decided to find a bench is a funny, wild little garden next to St. Luke's Church. I am sure that some devoted volunteers have been responsible, over the years, for this tranquil spot's evolution.
It is so quiet, with a curving brick pathway rambling around the space. There are perhaps ten wooden benches along the pathway, that welcome folks to either sit and read, or have a lunch, or do a crossword, or sketch some plants, or watch a baby having an afternoon nap, or just chat.

A tall brick wall surrounds this garden, so that the average passerby would not realize what a haven is near.
As we sat there, we saw lots of sparrows, and some butterflies and even some bumble bees. Getting into the rhythm of nature's beauty really does help to soothe our city-dwellers' stressful thoughts. One just gives into the gentle breeze, the dappled sunlight, the respect for the garden that every visitor shows.

Time seems to melt. No appointments need to be kept. No cell phone rings. No helicopter is heard overhead. We spotted a tree that we decided might be some sort of crab apple tree. Most of the flowering plants were clearly nearing the end of their 2009 display. Even so, they were splendid.

After some hours, we did decide to hoist ourselves from that bench, and begin to wander our way out of the garden.

This pathway near the church itself was bordered by roses still producing blooms.

Another pathway lead to the Church's school, and on another side of that path, strollers could see the back of some very beautiful village houses. It is rather unusual in this city to have such access to the back gardens of private homes.
Leaving this remarkable location was not easy; however, we did need to think about getting back uptown to our homes, and wanted to manage that journey before the afternoon commuting rush hour.
And so we did. This was such a refreshing day. I think that it will give me some beautiful little vignettes to remember in the next few days, when shop matters will again challenge my patience. It's grand to have gentle, yet strong positive images at the ready.
Those of you who live in the country may find this tribute to nature's beauty a bit silly. This city dweller thinks that an afternoon like this is priceless.
Best wishes to you all.

52 comments:

  1. Ah, Frances, a day like you've described really is precious. The views of New York that you share put a whole new perspective on the big city for many of us. You lead such a busy life, managing the shope. It's good to think of you carving out the time for a good visit with a friend, in such beautiful and peaceful surroundings.

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  2. There are so many charming places in New York if you only look. Last November we were early for an opera production at the d”Amato Opera on the Bowery and walked a little bit up the avenue and right there, on a corner, was a little garden too. I don’t remember exactly the location but once in the tiny garden it was as if you were miles away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. I am so pleased we went to the little opera house because this was its last season. I enjoy going to these secret places of New York and not in the tourist sites.

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  3. Such a delightful afternoon you've had, Frances. And so beautifully described.

    Time with a friend, and time with nature -- what a wonderful afternoon. Our garden, try as I might, will never look as good as the one you have pictured (in words and photos). Right now, our place is actually a disaster area, thanks to the "help" from the puppies.

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  4. What a wonderful day you've shared with us. I think the contrasts we find around us can give a lot of clarity and sometimes relief from what we usually experience. It's great to be able to carve out some different kind of time wherever you are. For a country-dweller, I love to have the occasional day of pavement time!

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  5. I love finding little hidden places in town and out. There is some beautiful planting in that garden.

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  6. So many of your posts bring to mind a series of writings by Helene Hanff which were transmitted by the BBC on Woman's Hour many years ago. She, like you, would seek out secret gardens amidst the buildings and bustle of city life. I think we all need places like that to refresh the spirit.

    It is so nice to hear that bumble bees are still thriving in one of the world's most built up areas :-)

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  7. Frances, I felt so excited for you that you found that little garden, it looks so beautiful and peaceful. I know that even though the West Village is one of the quieter, leafy, low-rise parts of your amazing city it is still noisy and busy, so what a fabulous and special find! As a city dweller too, I completely understand your thrill at spending time in such a place. Somehow the pleasure of greenery and wildlife is hugely amplified by the fact that it is surrounded by noise dust and dirt. Thanks for sharing this great place! And thanks too for your lovely comments recently :-)

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  8. PS Just read Acornmoon's comment - I too think of you as a sort of Helene Hanff, but much sweeter and nicer :-)

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  9. Its wonderful to seek out these litle havens of delight in cities.Thought I was the only one who hates mobile phones. So enjoyable to catch up with a friend at leisure like that in tranquil surroundings.Can just see you there gabbing away, Frances.

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  10. Hello Frances

    Once again your superb writing captures the essence of a country day in the bustling city. What you also capture is the precious yet fleeting nature of such moments - that often country-dwellers are too blase to notice. I also adore those hidden oases of tranquility in cities - and your pictures do it tremendous justice.

    E
    x

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  11. What a charming spot to find in the middle of your busy city. I can imagine that the quiet, the scents and the trees must have given you a lovely 'country moment'.

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  12. I get Goose Bumps! when I read about your New York days, I long to come back and visit your city, I loved every moment of it and want to come back and find all these places you talk about.
    Hopefully one day soon, but in the meantime, please keep telling your wonderful tales.
    Love Blossom

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  13. What a blissful tranquil spot in the City, thank you for sharing it Frances. And that was a true friend indeed who was wise enough to order lunch and wait.

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  14. Not at all silly - the sort of dreamy afternoon I like.

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  15. Thank you. I've just finished a heavy day of writing and it's been a real treat to read your post at the end of it. Through your blog I've learned so much about your city; I used to think that it was entirely built up, or at least that was the image in my mind, and it's been delightful learning about the tranquil and green spaces within it.

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  16. I think it is even more wonderful and precious to find somewhere like that in the city! What a lovely day to treasure!

    Pomona x

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  17. A lovely day, by your account. A gentle, peaceful day, to relax and enjoy in your secret park enclosure. I am so glad there are such havens in New York, we only ever see the hustle and bustle. A day like this (did you have the afternoon off?) will help to recharge your batteries. I hope you will have many more of them, that there will lovely, mellow, autumn days to come.

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  18. That church is beautiful, a lovely mellow wall and a mellow surroundings. Thank goodness for green lungs, although I have so much around me it still makes me breathless.

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  19. What a lovely tranquil place you have found in the midst of your busy city to enjoy some catch up time with your friend. The photo of the back of one of the village houses looks really charming and reminds me of 'The Backs' in Cambridge, here in the UK. Thank you Frances, for a superb piece of writing.
    x

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  20. Not silly in the least, Frances. I love the thought of those little pockets of tranquility in somewhere as busy as New York, and hope that nearly all the world's great cities have at least one or two - I can think of a couple such places I used to know in London, and they're really to be treasured. And it's nice to think people have loved and tended the place, too.

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  21. Such a lovely day you had, all the beautiful flowers. I too cannot believe we're in Sept already, where did the summer go? Leaves are on the turn and flowers going over, though some are having new lease of life as we've had a bit more rain.
    Forgive me for not being a frequent visitor these days, I hardly ever get time to look at blogs now. Work is great but leading a team of 9 staff and working with 17 families, takes a lot of time, and then when I do get to relax, to watch TV, I fall asleep!! best wishes Frances,
    Love Elaine

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  22. I don't think it matters if one is a city dweller or a country one. Time to sit a while and look is precious time.
    It looks a beuatiful spot in what I always picture to be a city of bustle and busy. In fact what with this one and your earlier Central Park photos I didn't realise that thee was so much green space in your city.
    I'm so lucky to have my eyes widened by your posts Frances.
    A treat always.
    CKx

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  23. I never realised New York was so green until I started reading your blogs Francis. I'm so glad you are able to find such lovely places to sit after the busy urban life you lead.

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  24. it sounds perfect and the church gardens look so perfect, one thing i like about being in a big city is finding small spots of calm! fliss xx

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  25. What a lovely post. I've just discovered your blog but will certainly be returning!Beautifully evocative writing.

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  26. Here you are again doing your New York promotion bit. At this rate the next PC re-union will be in Central Park. (Actually not a bad idea we might get a good group rate in one of your Manhattan hotels.) But seriously this is another of your most beautifully crafted pieces which after Jacko's recent post in the Common Room I trust you are keeping a permanent record of. If collected together they would make a lovely coffee table book and one that you could dip into again and again. It is not only New Yorkers who love New York and feel a nostalgia for it.

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  27. Dear Frances. Thank you for your lovely comment in my blog, and for correcting my mistake... my english is quite hopeless, especially when it comes to knitting patterns! In Norwegian we use the word "mask" of stitches, and I just took a gamble that it was the same in English. But of course it is stitches, and I have now made the corrections to my "pattern". Thank you.

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  28. Hi Frances,
    Your photos from New York are a dream.Thanks for sharing!
    Have a nice day,
    Regina

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  29. New York?!
    You are right, nature is absolutely priceless!
    Thank you for sharing!

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  30. Just found your blog, its great! So wonderful to see New york. I live in England, so it is a lovely visit for me. Pop and visit me sometime please! Suzie. x :)

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  31. Sorry I'm late. As ever, a true gem of a post. How wonderful to know of a coffee shop that allows you to take your time! Such a blessing in today's rushed society.

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  32. Dear Frances:

    Another beautiful post. I am planning a trip to NY City in October and will add The High Line and the lovely park in this post to my itinerary.

    Annie @ The View from 256
    http://theviewfrom256.blogspot.com/

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  33. Yes, far too short a summer and Labour Day already! The bees are still murmuring but the days are shorter and the fashionable (in Toronto, at any rate) are turning out in dark plum and charcoal grey.

    What a beautiful oasis in the city, a scene for something Dickensian. Don't we all want to know these corners are still to be found?

    Blessings (and thanks for dropping by),
    Frances

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  34. And this city dweller agrees with you completely. A lovely post. Thank you.

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  35. what a lovely day with your friend..so much beauty around you..

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  36. Hello ! What a lovely NY post...I love your city and try to visit every few years.Just saving my pennies for the next trip , so great to have a virtual visit instead !

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  37. Isn't it terrific that in the great cities of the world there are oases of calm, peace and tranquility. It keeps one sane and keeps the air fresh, the vital lungs of a place.
    Lovely writing.
    Best wishes, Debs

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  38. Hello Frances,
    It is amazing how relaxing and calming a green area can be in the middle of a city, yours looks perfect, just to dip in and smell the roses.
    When ever I go to the Market town to shop I always end up sitting on a bench in a park or by the river, collecting my thoughts, and some leaves.
    We are enjoying some lovely sunny days and beautiful sunsets, stretching summer out a little longer. Autumn colours appearing, lovely burgundy leaves and shiny red berries, lots of inspiration for drawing.
    Millyx

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  39. Sorry I am late stopping by Frances, but what wonderful photo's you have shared with us, love the colours of the Autumn Berries and Plants.

    You work so hard dear friend and how lovely to know that you are able to share time with kind friends around you in that beautiful city of NY you live in.

    Wonderful post Frances.

    xx

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  40. Yet another mini vacation for me.. I feel as tho I were there.. (sigh)
    Thank you.

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  41. dear francis,
    tanti saluti dall'Italia!
    Hugs,
    Merisi

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  42. I have never sat in St. Luke's garden but have lurked nearby often.
    Now I think I have to break in to enjoy it!

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  43. What a beautiful oasis in such a busy city...lovely post...Thanks...

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  44. I can't wait to come over! We have a short break planned at the end of November. Unfortunately it's only for 3 nights so I know I won't see a slither of what city and surrounding has to offer. But this will be a lifetimes dream. I'm counting down.

    xx

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  45. I wandered through St. Luke's garden and worried about that taxi braking through the fence that was supposed to pretect pedestrians - New York has so much to offer and it is so lovely that New Yorkers can find the one or other nature's reserve tucked away in one spot or another. I remember a church somewhere near Mulberry St., with a little garden and a large nativity display at Christmas, alas, I can't recall the name: St. Joseph's, perchance? Ah, such is memory, slowly fading ...

    Hoping that you can enjoy a gorgeous Indian Summer!

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  46. Frances, a gift for you at my place.

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  47. Frances: I hope all your days are going as serenely as September 2 in the West Village. What an oasis of peace and rest you describe!
    Janet in peaceful rural Nova Scotia

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  48. Beautiful thanks for sharing.
    And cant believe that it isnow Ocotber the 2nd!

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  49. The crab apple tree photo resembles a painting.
    New York seems just a perfect city with so many treasures, some secret or hidden. I am so grateful to you dear Frances for your sharing of them with us. And so beautifully, bless you. The eye of a true artist is what you have.

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  50. Sunny Indian Summer greetings! :-)

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