Sunday, May 31, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York, where it is quite hot and humid.

It is a day to seek shade and any breeze, with knowledge that thunderstorms will arrive later on.  

On a more beautiful afternoon this week I met a friend for lunch at El Cafe at the Museo del Barrio, followed by a leisurely walk around the magnificent Conservatory Garden in Central Park.

I encourage to click on the above links to learn more about both of these remarkable places.  I'll try to show you, via my afternoon's photographs, some of the atmosphere of the sprawling Garden.

On weekends, the Garden can be a crowded place, and is often the site of quite elegant weddings and other parties.  On a weekday afternoon, I think that there are more birds and bees than people.

I hope that you can imagine a little breeze, and lots of birdsong and bee buzzing.

These fully bloomed peonies had delightfully sweet scents and were the size of dinner plates.

The garden designers have a great skill at mixing colors, textures, scents and proportions to achieve an elegant, welcoming result.

My friend and I were glad that some iris were still in bloom.

Even the post-bloom seed pods on some plants were beautiful.  I do need to get back over to the Garden with my sketchbook.

It had been several years, yes years, since my last visit to this Garden, and I really wondered why.

This shady little nook with reflecting pool and statue is a tribute to the author of The Secret Garden.

Perhaps if you click on the following picture, you will be able to read the letters carved into the stone in the foreground.  We found it amusing that a gardener was refilling his classic large watering can from the reflecting pool in order to water some tender new plants that had recently been added to an adjacent space.

This gardener was very friendly and informative about how changes are constantly being made to the Garden and how the new additions get "hand watered" until their roots are established enough to benefit from the subtle irrigation system's hose tubes that snake their way through the greenery.

I do hope that you all are getting some idea of the beauty of this fabulous place.

There are lots of trees and shrubs throughout the garden.  We were too late to see the wisteria, azaleas or fruit trees in bloom.  Next year!  You can see the gardener in his protective sunhat.

More peonies.

I think that I tried to photograph some huge bumble bees in the following picture.  Perhaps you can spot them near the base of the flowers?

Contrasting colors do add some drama to the multiple shades of green.

A clever bird couple selected a desirable address for their spring 2015 nest.

And another view of the nest in its hiding place.

Some visitors come to sit on benches along these shaded avenues. The ivy growth is thick along the ground.

In another section of the Garden a more strict geometry is at the heart of the design. Late spring growth of the leaves has softened the geometry.

Of course, there is a water feature.

This stairway leads up to the impressive wisteria arbors. They are now very leafy, and still lovely after the flowering days.

Does this not seem a place of tranquility?

Just beyond those trees is Fifth Avenue.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of rose roses bloomed around a circular pathway.

Are they not splendid?

Let us have one more view of the roses, with a view through the fence of another area of Central Park.  Remember, the Park is quite large.

This shady spot also gives you a perspective on Fifth Avenue buildings.  Mount Sinai Hospital's huge complex of buildings is quite near.  I think you can also see a gardener with his wheelbarrow on the path near more roses.

We were curious to see what a group of gardeners were working on, and discovered that they had been digging up all of the daffodil bulbs since their season was over.  The gardeners said that they were giving away the bulbs and could even provide us with carrier bags.  Unfortunately, neither of us has a garden, but we thought the offer was amazingly generous.  More will be planted in the circular space for summer, and then more bulbs will be planted in autumn.

I wish we could have said yes to the offer.

The pansies edging this knot garden area were also being carefully dug out to be replaced with something else.  The pansies will no doubt go to some sort of greenhouse.

Do imagine the scent.

These beauties are well worth a close up view.

I took the following photograph of the study in greens against an overcast sky, to show how the shrubbery is now due for a clipping.  I loved the look of the little sprigs popping out above the designated top of the box.

There is something about this picture that reminds me of some of my favorite Lucian Freud paintings and etchings.

As we headed up the steps to the Fifth Avenue gate, I turned around to take one last photograph of the formal entry.  This time I thought of those dark green trees in an early scene from Blow Up.

I hope that you all have enjoyed this visit to the Conservatory Garden, and that some day you will be able to stroll its pathways yourselves.

Thank you for your visit to my previous post with the street scenes. I enjoyed reading your comments very much!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

I often like to show you all views of special events in New York, but this time around I thought I would show you some views of just one Upper West Side city block.

Let's start with an entrance to the subway system.  The green globe light indicates that the station is open all the time.  

You can also see an old church diagonally across Broadway.  And beautiful blue sky overhead.

If you are in need of a newspaper, magazine, or a candy bar, stop into this shop.  Bud Light is also available.

Are you feeling at all hungry, and perhaps would like a banana (25 cents) or some other fruit or veg, just step over to this stand.  The produce selection changes with the season, but is not from a local farm.

Here's a lovely flower and plant shop that always has an enticing display right out on the sidewalk.

If it's just about lunchtime, and you'd like a bite on the run, this mobile food cart will help you with that appetite.

Should your shoes be a bit down at the heels, Carlos and company will sort you out.  They also have a fine umbrella selection.  I bought a lightweight folding umbrella there several years ago to take on a U.K. visit, and it is still working just fine.

Curbside parking is never easy here in New York, and this plumber is taking a chance by parking next to the fire hydrant.  A fine might be delivered by a Traffic Enforcement Policeman while the plumber is getting his lunch nearby.

The following photograph shows only one half of the store front of the New Wave restaurant, that serves breakfast all day long, but has an especially good value breakfast available early in the morning.

It's a very old-style diner sort of place with counter seating and also cracked leather seating at tables.  It is possible to linger at a table and chat with friends.

A few steps down along this "village" pathway you'll find a place to have your hair trimmed.

If, like myself, you do not have a smart phone and need to make a call, or might be late for a destination and in need of a cab, these services are also available nearby.

What I have attempted to show you all in this post is a group of small businesses that serve a neighborhood well.  New York City can be experienced on a very intimate scale.  Many New Yorkers count their minutes very tightly and rely upon such local conveniences.

Thank you so much for your visits and comments.  As always, it's a pleasure to share a bit of the city with you.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

Yesterday morning I took the subway downtown to Union Square, planning on finding some beautiful fresh asparagus at the Farmers Market.

What a fabulous surprise to discover the arrival of ... the Dance Parade!  I'd no idea that such a special event was taking place.  I'm glad that I had my little camera with me and am now able to share some of the Parade with you all.  You must imagine the music.

This was the first float of the parade.  I realized that my asparagus mission would have to wait.

Lots of skilled drummers kept the beat.  Beautiful costumes from many parts of the world were in motion.

You all can see that parts of these blocks of Union Square West are paved smoothly and some are cobbledy irregular.  This was a challenge for some dancers' foot gear and also for some portable sound systems, but everything was fine.

A quick shower and the the sun came out again.

Parade observers kept smiling and did their own little subdued dancing as the procession continued.

Many Central American dance groups performed.

It was not always very easy to take photographs that would actually convey the dancing.

The famous choreographer Paul Taylor's dance school's students danced their way downtown.

It was fun to see the reactions of children watching the children dancing in the Parade.  Perhaps those watchers will be in next year's Parade.

Also fun to compare the fashion on the sidelines to that of the dancers.

These young senoritas heels are about to encounter cobblestones.

Can you all see the bells on his boots?

 Many professional photographers were covering the Parade.

Pretty parasols.  I cannot remember what sort of dance these folks were doing.

Nor these.

The costumes are lovely, and you can see a bit of NYC architecture, too.

Lots of red was part of the event.

Fabulous hats!

Plenty of precision along with sparkling face paint.

Every so often there would be a longish break between the performing units, and I took advantage of a pause, to find my asparagus.

Lots of sweet lilacs were also available.

Cheery geraniums brightened this stand.  I found my asparagus and some apples, and hearing more music, returned to the Parade.

Beautifully graceful silk clad ladies, dancing along to the beat of some fabulous drummers.

Many of the performing units made use of very amplified sound systems, but I truly preferred the natural drums.

Tutus and tiaras in motion.


Funky on wheels.

Uncle Sam.

This is not the only hula hoop I saw.

I loved the wit of these tee shirts worn by folks who'd volunteered as Dance Police to complement the numbers of actual NYC Police on duty in their usual blue uniforms.  The Dance Police were there to keep the dancers moving along at a steady pace, in line with the official hours of the parade permit granted by the city.

Balloons overhead signalled a party on its way downtown.

Get in the groove.

Smiles all around!

Don't stop!

And then, a quick tempo change as the American Swiss Ballet arrived.

More young dancers.  Many of these dance school groups included dance teachers who were helping to direct the young folks in their moves.

And then another tempo arrived on the scene.

The heat of the day was having a wilting effect on some of the gentlemen wearing these elaborate outfits.  Carrying the hats was more comfortable, and lots of bottled water was being swallowed.

The young ladies are still wearing their hats.

Here's a close up view of the intricate hairstyles worn by many dancers.

Hats off!

Ahhh, Brasil has arrived!

Golden samba reigns!

There is no way to capture this joy in a still photograph.

More joy!

With feathers.

Please take a bow, gentlemen.  You are the heart of the samba.

Brasil was followed by a complete change of mood.

Celtic dancers in black t-shirts and kilts.

The Dance Police had asked these folks pick up their pace, which they did with style and grace.

I was standing just behind two NYC Police officers when this group came dancing by, and do not remember what sort of dancing they were doing.

I took another detour back into the farmers market, and saw more flowers.

It was difficult not to take some of these lilacs home.

It's also nasturtium season.

This fellow was considering ranunculas.  I am not sure what sort of flowers were already in his backpack.

I returned to parade side in time to see more dancing children.  The pretty little girl in the purple t-shirt to my right was truly enjoying the parade, applauding her favorites.  Her little brother seemed less interested.

Those blue boots are amazing.

Here's a close up view of costume details.

I am hoping that you all are not getting weary.  There is still a bit more Parade to come.

Another hoop, and neon hues.

The lady with the pink headband and Red Nose Day nose was performing for the little girl in the purple t-shirt.

These dancers were great fun.

I am guessing that it was unusual for them to be doing their dancing in sunlight.

The destination of the Dance Parade was Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, where a huge dance party would take place.

Everyone was invited.


Keep dancing!

Don't stop.

What a great atmosphere.

Here's a magic blue bus.

Another youngster, with a bit of a scary friend.

Blue bus was followed by pink bus.

And more dancers.

Driver of the pink bus.

Mascot at the back of that bus.

Lots of folks my age dancing on this float.  Some were barefoot.

And then another mood change, with the arrival of this color-coordinated precision dance group being directed in their steps.

No direction needed for this lady.

This group had been rehearsing for ages.

More gorgeous textile work on display, along with the fine dancing.

Swirly skirts filling the space.

No, it's not John Cleese.  This fellow was able to do very, very high kicks while making his way down the street.  My camera clicks were never quick enough to catch the full elevation.

Just dancing along with the breeze.

Almost there.


We gave a final round of applause as the final group of dancers passed by us.

And those of us on the sidelines, still smiling, agreed that we'd had a fabulous time, and that we'd be back next year.

Thank you all for joining me at the 2015 Dance Parade.  Wasn't it fun to see these city views!