Sunday, April 26, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

I have read lots of blogs today that brought to my screen all the beauty of spring's arrival in various countrysides. I was awake, yet felt that I was also dreaming.

New York reality today has showed me ... and anyone else around this city on a prematurely summer day. It was 90 degrees. If I were less lazy, I would do the centigrade conversion, but the heat has made me lazy.

Often our city will suddenly embrace this sort of sun-fueled heat at the end of May. To have it happen in late April is a surprise. I dug out my favorite 2008 sandals, and got the laundry done early, got the other required errands done early.
I live in a building built before World War II, and therefore, in city real-estate speak, deemed pre-war. This might amuse some of you all who live in older countries. The walls of this pre-war building are thick enough to keep its inhabitants cool for long after the outside gets hot. Even tonight it is quite comfy in this apartment, and only one window is open.

But I do get ahead of myself. In the early afternoon, I set off on a bus for the east side of Central Park, planning to walk back home after my visit to the library. Just before I boarded the bus, at the end of a long queue, I heard the bus driver in a typically loudish, or even loutish, conversation with another boarding passenger. Seemed that there might be a change of route. The man in front of me did not want any delay in his eastward trip.

I knew that there was a March of Dimes Walk fund raiser around town today, because I'd sent my usual check to a dear friend who's walked this walk for decades, but somehow I had forgotten that there was also a parade on Fifth Avenue, honoring Greece.

I got on the bus. We began our journey. Just as we got to Central Park West (obviously the western boundary of the glorious Park) the driver announced that we would indeed be taking a detour. Bit of tension moved its way backward from the driver's frontal location through the bendy-bus. I just relaxed, knowing that at the worst, I would see more of the Park from the bus window than I would see on the normal route.
The detour took a very long time. We did get to the east side, and I got off the bus around Park Avenue, so that I could capture some photos of the tulips in their final act of blooming. There are blocks and blocks planted with these tulips and these flowering trees. With today's heat, these Park Avenue beauties will not have many more days of glory.

Block after block has this planted area dividing the uptown and downtown traffic routes.

I have taken these pictures following a special request from a lady who remembers the Park Avenue tulips, even as she now shows us so many beautiful views of Vienna.

Ah, finally off the bus, and over to the library for a great hunt in the stacks, and discovery of a book that would otherwise have been lost. It had not been checked out for years. The book is The Stone Book, by Alan Garner.

Got the book checked out, and decided to brave the mid-afternoon heat for a walk through the Greek parade and back across the Park. Great decision!

There was a slight breeze, and I remembered to visit what was still abloom in the Lilac Walk.

Most of the many varieties of lilacs along this little pathway just south of the Sheep Meadow have already gotten past the bloom stage are are leafy green. All the same, those still in flower are also giving all who pass by their delightful fragrance.

As I began to really feel the warmth of this sunny afternoon, I glanced over at the crowds that had chosen to gather all over the Sheep Meadow. A few weeks ago, this area was still fenced off, not available to the sun worshipping public. The gates are now open.

Would any of you all really want to be one of hundreds of people on this lawn? Or would you prefer to be on a country lane, or dealing with various needs of your garden, or watching cricket (or even playing cricket?) Do you perhaps see where my dreams arise?

I wish you all pleasant dreams.


  1. The lilacs look superb.
    I must get up to Central Park in time to enjoy them.
    A beautiful virtual visit with you.

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  3. Mmm, despite the lilacs, I cannot abide large crowds, so I think I'll stick to cricket and country lanes. (Even though I almost caught a chill watching our team yesterday!)

  4. Every time I read your lovely blog I have a great yearning to be there.

    One day...

  5. One again a pleasant trip - thank you.

    P.S. Loved the Stone Book - haven't read any Alan Garner for years. Wonder if I'd still enjoy him as much.

  6. Country lanes for me Frances, though I loved your flowery photos of the park. Our lilacs are only just coming our here.
    Alan Garner also wrote books for older children, I think. I seem to remember my sons liking them.

  7. Oh dear, honesty makes me admit to prefering the country lanes Frances, but I often think cities do try harder with their green araes. Just look at those wonderful tulips. And the swathes of lilac is beautiful too. Lovely to see everyone out enjoying it xx

  8. Lovely blog Frances. While I love the peace of the countryside, I also think there is something invigorating about seeing people in a city dropping everything to be outside enjoying the sunshine.It warmed my heart in Brisbane to see families out for the day at the City beach on a Sunday, children splashing around, the laughter, observing peoples picnics, and realizing there are lots of ways to enjoy nature.

  9. Ah Frances....that is hot! The weird thing I found about the US was the way it seemed to go straight from winter to summer with barely a week of spring. I didn't miss a huge amount about the UK - but i did really miss spring.
    Do let me know what you think of The Stone Book? I have it on my reading list. jxx

  10. Those are great cheery.

    I prefer the country lanes too, but every so often I need a fix in the city. There's so much, galleries, shops etc...

  11. Definitly country lanes for me, Frances, but I must admit that New York, on a spring day before the heat settles, must be a wonderful place. Your photos are beautiful!

  12. No you are right I'd rather be in my garden than among hundreds of people in a public park. 90 degrees in April, wow. Never do the conversion - I prefer fahrenheit, its what I grew up with!

  13. Hello Frances,
    Thanks you for visiting my blog and your very kind words, much appreciated. It is hard to believe how much further along the vegetation is in New York than here in Maine...we only have daffs and magnolias right now, how lovely to see all the flowers you have there, I always enjoyed the plantings on Park Ave when I lived in the city.

  14. A beautifully written blog, Frances. Oh, to have a few degrees of your warmth to take the chill off our unseasonably cold days.

    I shall stick to crowd free too! A British beach in the height of summer is no place to be, fighting for your place on the sand. Such fun, I don't think so!

  15. Hello Frances, Nice to read about your day and see the photographs.
    Today my walk was through the Blue bell woods, with violets and primroses, a wonderful sight and even more lovely to breath in the scents of these flowers. As you know, I am a country girl.
    Lovely to hear from you yesterday, after my busy day at my little art event. The sun shone so I did see crowds of people. Today back to quiet country lanes. Millyx

  16. I suppose variety is the spice of life, both cities and villages have their place. Having said that, the little woodland near to where I live is at its most spectacular now, filled with drifts of fragrant blue bells bathed in dappled sunshine, made even nicer because we had it all to ourselves.

  17. Lovely post, I found you while browsing.
    For me it's country views, city dreams. After decades of London, countrylife is slow and sedate; the scenery is beautiful, the air is clean and the people are friendly; and still I hanker after the big city, the theatres, shops,concert halls, museums, the noisy streets, the anonymous crowds. public transport, adult education colleges..... and nobody minding my business!
    I'll be back.

  18. Who needs to fly to NY when these pics make me feel like I am there already, however, flying to NY would put me in a position to enter a certain shop and say hi to a certain person wouldn't it??? O.K., when is it likely I shall win the lottery here? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm? Gorgeous as ever my friend

  19. Oh, Frances,

    you not only got a taste of summer, but some gorgeous shots of the Park Avenue tulips. The last one is spectacular, with the blaze of orange tulips and the cherry tree still blossoming, all in that beautiful spring light!

    I went through our Stadtpark here yesterday, just as the sun was setting, took a few pictures and then talked with a Viennese lady who was enjoying the scene from one of the many benches in that park. Dusk grew into night, the moon had risen above the tall trees, and we enjoyed talking in the quiet of the evening. Everyone else had long gone home.
    Such are the pleasures of either early morning or late evening at the Stadtpark.

  20. I don't how I managed to not say thank you, when all I wanted to do was thanking for for sharing the beautiful Park Avenue tulips with us! A heartfelt thank you and may you have many beautiful spring days yet ahead before the hot summer sun settles in for good!

  21. I loved your walk, as usual, Frances, but I was very interested to see that you'd posted quickly after your 'meme' which I have also just caught up with and thoroughly enjoyed reading. I have the impression that you are quite a private person and maybe that was quite a tough thing to do. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  22. Despite the crowds, I still think that New York is the greatest city in the world, so if you have to live in a city... Of course, you are a superb advocate for it too. Loved the tulips too. And now I must go off for a game of cricket!

  23. I am a huge fan of cities and the countryside in equal measure when I am there. I love the vibrancy and interest of the city, the architecture, the people, the street entertainers, and the many things we take for granted. I very much enjoy taking a walk with you in NY and would be there in a heartbeat! We are very fortunate here in Glasgow as within 30-40minutes or so from any direction you can be in the peace, beauty and tranquility of the countryside - and we're never far from water. So lucky!

    Thanks for your kind comment Frances. As I am new to blogging I enjoy the surprise of a comment, it's like an unexpected gift! I plan to put some photographs of Glasgow on my blog at some point in the future. I hope you will find them of interest should you drop by. All the best...

  24. Hi Frances,

    A lovely post, I am not one for crowds, but do know that the city you live in is a fine one, and of course you have that beautiful Central Park nearby.

    I love the Tulips and the Lavender Frances, I have two double White Lavenders in the garden, but love the coloured ones too.

    Wonderful photo's Frances, thank you for sharing with us.


  25. When I lived in London I was often astonished at a cluster of trees and bushes that had a backbird singing, perhaps a squirrel and some wildflowers beneath. These little snatches of wildlife used to cheer me amongst the concrete. I now live in rural Cambridgeshire, close to the Suffolk border and a nightingale sings in the wood behind my house! Emma x

  26. What a lovely evocative journey through you day. Have to say after twenty years in London it's country lanes all the way now! Thanks so much for your lovely supportive comment on my doodles, I really appreciate it.
    D x

  27. I do like your blog, it is beautiful, and so elegant, your writing is exquisite. I love the city of New York, I disagree with anyone who says it's not a great place, I love, love, love New York. I'm so glad I've found your blog which is going to be a regular read for me now.
    In answer to your question, I'd rather be in my walled garden with a sun hat on, than in a crowded park, even if it was good for people watching!
    Love Vanessa xxx

  28. Hi francis as usual you take me on a very calm tour, and i can see clearly where your dreams rise from..outside it looks like it may thunder today typical.xx

  29. I can't believe I missed a post of yours Frances, I've only just come to it and I have so enjoyed a trip round New York with you.

    Our lilac has just come out today!

  30. Wow, that's busy! I love your descriptions of New York, though, country girl that I am. I think cities should be buzzing and vibrant - they're just eerie when they're empty. I love the idea, too, of getting a book out of the stacks and seeing how many years it is since it was last read. I took Aubrey's Brief Lives out of our local library last week - the first stamp on the ticket was 1993, and it has only been out a handful of times since then. Enjoy Alan Garner.

  31. Good morning, Frances,
    thank you for your kind words regarding the peonies!
    I have some more pictures for you, if you click here and then stroll down a little.
    I will try to get to the Alpine Gardens asap, they have several rare species of tree peonies, some blooming right now.
    Wishing you a good start into the new week,

    I agree with Edward, New York is special, will always be dear to my hearts, and there are always glimpses of memories that pull at my heart strings.

  32. What beautiful Tulips Frances, but I love the lilacs bestest.
    & I wouldn't be in that bit of the park either!

  33. Hi Frances, I have tagged you in my blog - hope you don't mind as I thought you could give some great answers to some pretty normal questions! Lx

  34. Hello Frances - I've just found your blog.

    I really enjoyed your post, which has given me a feel of life in New York.

    The Stone Book is a wonderful book! I was amazed to read of you finding it as I hadn't heard of it for years. I also loved Alan Garner's other books, Elidor and the Weirdstone of Brisingamen books. I'm going to see if the library has them here!! (I'm in North East UK).

  35. Thank you so much for your supportive messages, Frances- so appreciated. Came back hoping to find a new blog but no - so enjoyed your tulips all over again...jxx

  36. I love New York but have to confess only having been there once. I am a country girl who likes the city in small doses. It's a pleasure to see it through someone who lives there, even though you dream of the country.

  37. What lovely photographs of the tulips. You ask: "Would any of you all really want to be one of hundreds of people on this lawn?" Hmmmm good question. I would dearly love to visit New York and I would like to see Central Park, so I'd have to say yes to your question. The thing is, when you do have the country lanes ALL the time, you start to take them for granted. Sometimes you have to get away, to get back with fresh eyes.

  38. Hello!

    Oh, I could never lived in a city, it would kill me... I have always lived on the countryside and don't like noise.

    My new blog is called "...leva i de lengst förflydda tider...". It's a line from a beautiful song written by my favorite artist, Swedish Evert Taube -who died when I was only two years old. The adress is

    So nice you still will follow me =)

  39. Lovely to hear from you today, thankyou for the comments. Do you remember your enquiry about the vsd, the new challenge is displayed today, you can follow the link on my drawing if you are interested, with one week to complete it. Hope all is well with you. Millyx

  40. Dear Frances,
    I hope you are fine! :-)

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend,
    greetings from summery V.,

  41. and back yet again...just to say hello and leave good wishes and lots of love... I know how busy you are....but do miss your updates fromthe big city..

  42. How nice to meet another New Yorker! I've lived in Brooklyn all my life. Your photos are wonderful!

  43. Dear Frances, Thank you for your kind comments on my posts. You are very encouraging to a new blogger!
    I enjoy your posts and hope you will be showing us more of the city views, and perhaps of your painting too?

  44. Cities in bloom are fabulous. Many British cities don't do it so well but the smaller towns often embrace it through the Britain in Bloom competition.

    We're having an early hot spell too, 72F today a heatwave honestly! And a forecast of sunshine all weekend, I hardly dare believe it.

    Thanks for you kind comments on my blog. Have a super weekend.