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Finding the Green in the Chaos

>> Monday, May 10, 2010

Saturday was our day to experience New York City in all its glory.  Being a tour guide there is a big responsibility, especially when the person one is showing around has never been there before.  How on Earth was I to cram the New York experience into one day???

Since I am me, we started the day with a stroll through Central Park.  Trust me too go haring off in search of the only significant green and growing space in a sea of city.

I love Central Park.  I think part of my appreciation of it is probably that it is the only green space, and seems all that much more wonderful because it is surrounded by traffic and noise and people and chaos and that particular garbage/sewage stench that occasionally wafts out of the subway grates in every major city.

Part of it, though, is that everyone else loves Central Park, too.  Every time I've been there it's been a happy place, filled with health-conscious runners and bikers, frolicking kids and dogs, and relaxed and happy people relishing the healing of being surrounded by green things.

We wandered about, absorbing the mood.  The selection of wildlife that we spotted wasn't exactly glamorous or surprising:

Although rumor has it one can do some real bird watching in Central Park.  One can also do some great people watching there, trust me.

My husband was particularly enchanted by the little sail boats you can rent and sail on the pond:

Ominously, as we watched the sail boats, the wind started to pick up.  We'd heard the weather forecast, and knew it was going to get gusty as the day wore on.  A big blast swept the pond and flattened all the little sail boats, dipping sails into the water and causing some of the kids sailing them to shriek.  Ah, but that was just the beginning of the wind.

We stopped for brunch, and then walked up to museum mile.  I do love some of the architecture one finds throughout the City, in all sorts of random spots.

By the time we got to the Guggenheim, the wind was whipping so hard we were getting sand blasted.  I had to take out my contact lenses because I couldn't take another bit of grit underneath them.  Thank goodness I had thought to bring glasses as a backup.  It was a great relief to duck inside for a bit.

I love the Guggenheim, partly because the architecture is so amazing, and partly because the art there is always so weird.  This time was no exception.  It left us both wondering how people manage to get art chosen for display in the Guggenheim, and I happen to be an abstract artist myself.  The show that is up at present is nearly all photography (which should be up my alley) but it was just so stinking odd.  It struck me that some of the artists who had work on display were trying too hard to be weird and significant, but clearly I just didn't "get" this exhibit.  Virtually none of it spoke to me.  Oh well.  That's half the fun of the Guggenheim.

After our dose of art, we got blown back down for a little taste of 5th Avenue.  When I asked my husband if he wanted to see Times Square while we were there, he replied, "What on Earth for?  I've seen it on TV."  However, when I asked him if he wanted to go to FAO Schwarz, his face lit right up.  Thus, we went to FAO Schwarz.  After all, this was really his trip to New York.

Spouse with a Lego Wookie:

I was ecstatic to find a whole bunch of Smurf figurines.  I realize I'm dating myself by saying this, but I loved the Smurfs when I was a kid, and can hardly believe anyone still watches them or plays with them.    Rumor has it they've made a comeback in Europe.

A little of 5th Avenue was more than enough, so after only a few stores we hopped the subway downtown to see ground zero, which is always depressing and very weirdly exposed without the towers.  We then got our depressed selves blown to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty.

Now, I had been planning to take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry so he could see the Statue of Liberty better, but I happen to be a martyr to sea sickness, and anything short of a million dollars was not going to get me on a boat in the harbor with 50 mile an hour winds whipping the waves to a froth.  He had to settle for the view from the shore.

We wrapped up our day with a stroll through Greenwich Village and dinner there.  Spouse loved the Village.  I figured he would go for the crunchy, liberal, more laid back atmosphere, as compared with the more frenetic uptown.

All in all, what did I take away from my day in the City?  Sore feet, of course.  Grit ground into the top few layers of my skin and enough knots in my hair to make make me contemplate - briefly - cutting it off rather than brushing it.  I got a healthy dose of city craziness, some art, some opera, some good food, some great people watching. 

I also took away the realization that I tried to get trees into nearly every picture I took.

You can take the country mouse to the city, but you can't take the country out of the mouse.

No, I will never be a City girl.  I love a little of it on occasion, and in fact crave it once in a while, but would wither and die without my gardens and trees and lawns and fields.  It's good to be home.


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