Friday, June 25, 2010

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

We are now into deep summer in New York, although the calendar says summer only started a few days ago. It seems very different to those of us who spend more than a few fleeting minutes below ground each day on the New York City subway system.

The photo below is of an earlier version of the map of this system showing the route that I have been taking daily from my home to my work place, the shop. The Metropolitan Transportation Agency changes the look of these maps, and even the routes and names and existence of the various subway train lines every so often. I like to hold on to older maps. Not one of them is as graphically magical as that of the London Tube. That map is a classic.

I have digressed.
Mostly the NYC subways gets us to our various destinations without incident. Normally incident is a euphemism for ... something bad.
I would like to tell about three sights I saw today on my commute via the subway. I did not have my camera with me. You all will have to summon your visual imagination.
This morning I did my usual transfer between train lines under Times Square. I was walking down a necessary stairwell, when I saw something unusual headed my way. This something was a very large man whose body was entangled within the curves of a highly polished brass tuba. I backed up to the edge of the stairway to allow the man and his tuba to pass by.
He did pass by with his tuba, and I continued my stairway descent to the concrete surface of the subway platforms. I will not describe the high temperature of the atmosphere or the scents or the areas of litter. No, what caught my eye as I walked along that platform to the measured spot that will allow me to enter a train and exit that train car at the perfect spot on 23 Street, was something that was such a contrast to that giant polished tuba and large man.
It was a single, tiny, Chinese child's slipper, embroidered. It lay all by itself on the platform. Some tiny child must have yearned for bare feet in the heat of the subway, and given a tiny but determined kick to free his/her toes. The little slipper was adorable, never to be confused with the left-behinds that constitute the usual litter.
I love the contrast of scale. Huge, tiny, and I continued on to a full day of work.
Many hours later, I reversed my travel route to return home.
As I walked along the 23rd Street subway platform aiming to find the spot on that platform that would guarantee my exit at Times Square being that stop's ideal spot, I was stopped in my tracks.
I saw a young camera crew in the process of filming some sort of film that I guessed might have been part of a fashion promotion. Not too many fellow travelers were on that platform who were, like me, waiting for a train. Those who were were treated, or exposed, to a vision of a young, beautiful, tall Asian model wearing a floral embroidered filmy robe, open that robe to show off some very lacy and very ephemerally minimal lingerie and to walk about 20 metres down the platform.
Well. The camera man and director thanked all of us mere mortal commuters for our allowing the filming to continue without interruption. The model was pretty much naked under that dressing gown. I have never seen such a scene underground before.
Well. I had never before seen a tuba or an abandoned tiny embroidered slipper before either.
Is it not the run up to the full moon above ground?
Best wishes from New York.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

This will be a quick post. It's been a day off, an extra third day off to finish off the week. My employers calls the category a floating holiday. What a great notion, don't you think? A holiday that floats.

I started my floating Saturday with a good breakfast, featuring a three minute egg. About a year ago, my doctor advised me to cut back on my egg eating. I love eggs. I have followed his advice and will soon check in with him so that he can check my blood to see if this egg cut back has had any effect. How I perversely hope that there won't be much effect. I would love to resume sampling more than one per week.

In the above photo you will also see the front page of today's New York Times and some toast with marmalade and some coffee with skim (ugh ... that doctor again) milk, and my cluttered table.

Post egg and toast, pre-finish of all the coffee, I was also taking the elevator up and down to the basement laundry room to do the weekly wash. Last Tuesday, the wooden water tank on the room of this apartment building was replaced. This was a major deal. It was accomplished within the predicted time ... but meant that for most of Tuesday we had no water. It has meant since then that we residents have good running water, but it does have a faint scent/taste that is woody-metallic.

We hope that it will return to tasteless soon.

Ah, so breakfast was good, the newspaper was full of information that did not always please, the laundry was done.

I set off for a visit to my hair stylist who skillfully returned my bob cut to perfection. She is a wizard, and a fine person, too.

Then it was over to the nearby Union Square farmers green market. It is still a bit early for the local farmers to have truly bountiful produce, but all the same, today's stalls were beautiful.

There were lots and lots of flowers and plants, and bakery good, and eggs, and fish and chicken. I did not buy those.

Instead, I focused on greenery, finding fresh leafy Boston lettuce and wild rocket, and parsley. I was tempted by a stand featuring radishes. I admit to not being such a fan of radishes, but the varieties on display just won me over. I selected a rubber-banded-together bouquet of radish varieties, pink, red, redder, ivory, sharp, mild, globular, carrot-shaped. The farmer laughed when I told him that I was going to try to learn to like eating radishes, just because his selection looked so pretty. He suggested slicing the radishes very thinly and sauteing them with soy sauce. I will try it.
The picture above just shows a few of the samples. I planned on doing some colored pencil drawings of these lovelies, but admit that the afternoon's heat caught up with me ... and I took a nap.

It's a bit early for abundant tomato displays at the market, but I did spy with my little eye, the beauty in the following photo. It did not contribute to tonight's salade compose, but ... tomorrow evening it just might be the star of the show.

Every summer when these green markets really begin to strut their stuff, I just begin to yearn for the opportunity to have a garden of my own. Could it be that a year from now one of these recurring dreams might come true?
Meanwhile, I will state for the record that the radish that contributed to tonight's salad was scrumptious.
Best wishes to all who garden and to all who appreciate those gardeners.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

If you have visited here a time or two, you will know how much I do love the country, even though I have chosen to live in a huge city.

This post is a tribute to some dear friends of mine, who last week treated me to a day in the country. The weather was perfection. Our destination was about 40 miles north of New York City.

And so, in our rented car, we set off mid morning. And, mid-day decided to have a restoring stop. This was not our destination, but rather a lovely spot next to a pond.

On the other side of that reflective pond was a mill. Its wheel is just to the disappeared left side of the mill. I cut off the wheel to show the goats that were exploring the pond, while we rested under the trees.
We got back into the car, and continued on. Our destination was a fabulous place. It seems to be an undiscovered treasure. It is Stonecrop Gardens. Those of you who live near fabulous gardens across the Pond would definitely appreciate this place.
When we parked in the gravelly car park area, and emerged to that gravel, and looked at the green trees, shrubs, and iris blooming around us, it was the quiet that struck me.
True peace. I think that there was one other car parked. It was this welcoming quiet that would characterize the rest of our visit.
We ambled up a wood slatted pathway toward the little Potting Shed building where we would register our arrival, pay a very, very small fee, and receive a map to guide us around the expansive grounds.
Stonecrop is a place where botanists may come to study and observe, where students may learn a thing or three hundred about plants.
The site was once an estate owned by a particular family. It is now a teaching garden.

Every part of this place seems artless, yet could not have been what it is without lots of skillful planning and carrying through.
There are woodland areas, pond areas, rose gardens, areas where horses ramble, greenhouses where fledgling plantlets take root. There was something about this group that reminded me of some Chinese scroll paintings at the Metropolitan Museum.

In this part of New York State, there are lots of stone walls. I would love to learn how to build such a wall.

Here is one of those horses. Under a sky that truly shows what June can be.

This is a sample camellia. We saw hundreds. In many colors. I just liked this one best.

And here is one of the pond areas. Remember that we walked around and around, and had a splendid picnic lunch and walked around some more. And the entire time perhaps saw ten other people. For a New York City resident...this is just astounding.

We did not see Blackie, the resident black snake about whom we were warned. We did see lots of frogs, turtles, a few duck, and lots of tiny fish. And we heard much bird song. And saw many swallows as the day reached afternoon.

Since the day was so sunny, I took along my hat with the wide brim. I also took along my big linen tote bag with a sketchbook and colored pencils. Yet. Even at our relaxed pace, there really was no time to sketch. I took many photos, in addition to those posted here. Perhaps I can use those pictures to do some drawing and painting.

The above photo was taken by one of my traveling pals, and shows me in a beautiful little wisteria-covered gazebo, on the edge of a lilly pad endowed pond, next to a bit of rocks. Remember the name of the garden is Stonecrop Gardens.

The above photo shows one of those crops of stone, with one of my friends exploring the route to the next layer of ponds. That pond was just a short climb up the rocks...or stones.

We stayed almost until sunset, watching the light change, watching big clouds move across the sky. We were so glad to have had wonderful weather for our day in the country.

We lingered as long as we could. What dear friends I have to have treated me to this beautiful experience.
Hoping that you all will enjoy a sampling of our visit.