Tag: New York City

Running Away

We drove from summer to winter, from a charming disheveled city unprepared for another epic disaster to the clean well-lighted state of Massachusetts.

Monday evening, Steve and I sat out in the little brick backyard of our winter rental house on Octavia Street in New Orleans. A Monarch butterfly drifted by, a mockingbird annoyed Steve as it liked to do every evening. We admired the yellow flowers blooming in the branches of a tree against the blue sky streaked with a contrail. We listened to the song of the trains rolling, squealing, bumping together along the tracks on the other side of Tchoupotoulis along the Mississippi River a block away. The evening star appeared, bright in the sky. It felt like summer.

Tuesday morning as the sun rose, we locked the door of our little house with a purple door, put the key through the mail slot, climbed into my old Honda, and drove away.

Not toward our home, though. Our beloved cities of New York and New Orleans are the hardest hit by COVID-19. We headed to the Berkshires to be near loving family (even if we couldn’t hug them) and a Blue State health care system.

Through Mississippi, we drove past acres of wisteria blooms hanging from branches along the highway. Through Alabama we saw the tender green of trees just leafing out with redbuds blooming everywhere. Many hours later as we climbed to the Tennessee mountains, we saw bare tree branches with just forsythia blooming.

A man waved a banner from an overpass: “Thank you truckers.”

We stopped only for gas, using paper towels between hand and pump handle and keypad. We ate apples and oranges, crackers and hard-boiled eggs, cookies and a great big Snickers. We peed at the side of the road.

After midnight, we followed a tip that Cracker Barrel welcomes people parking overnight. There among the big campers quietly resting, we pulled up, tried to find comfortable positions, Steve in the back seat, me reclining as far back as I could in the front seat. We slept for a few uneasy hours.

At 5 a.m. we set off again in the rain, drinking lukewarm surprisingly ok coffee from the thermos.

We thought there’d be little traffic except for trucks, but there were vehicles of all kinds. The country did not seem shut down. A WalMart lot was full.

We went a bit out of our way so we wouldn’t have to see the New York skyline in the distance, driving instead up the Delaware Water Gap, stopping for a short walk on a peaceful trail, looking at gray skies, brown woods and water, patches of snow.

Late morning, we drove up to our Airbnb in Great Barrington, a duplex on a quiet street where we will self-quarantine for 14 days. Mo and Mike stopped by to deliver cookies, latex gloves, and an alcohol spray bottle. I met them outside and we helplessly waved at each other, promising walks in the country. In two weeks, we can consider being in the same room and petting Baci, who was barking her greeting from the car.

This place is comfortable, and Steve and I were soon napping hard to make up for nearly 27 hours in a metal box that is my heroic 2005 sedan, which just turned over 100,000 miles.

In the evening, we had a good dinner Steve made from the supplies we brought with us. Then Steve called me to the back door. Look up. There, over the snowy landscape, was the evening star.

Cardboard Kayaking

If you needed to make a getaway by water, and all you had was cardboard and tape and a paddle, could you make it? Maybe. Every July on Governors Island (a few minutes by ferry from Manhattan), 20 teams have two hours to build a vessel, and then they race with two-person crews. Some of the boats disintegrate, many of them flip over. A few make it.

I love this event. This year it was even better for me. My friend Lauren Collins helped build this pizza slice shaped vessel with the scrappy Red Hook kayak club, so I had a personal reason to cheer for this team.

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The competition looked tough–some coastal engineering firms had teams, environmental groups, kayaking clubs and the formidable Coast Guard (the two woman in the first picture were their crew).

When the Red Hook pizza slice began their heat with four boats, I’d say their odds weren’t good. But then, every other cardboard kayak instantly flipped over.

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Even the Coast Guard boat flipped.

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All Red Hook had to do was get around the buoy and come back, which they did to big cheers.

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In the finals, all team crews were men except the Red Hook team with Sherry and her 10-year-old daughter Maggie.

The Red Hook team got the biggest cheers and came in fourth (not last!). Sherry nearly got knocked in the head by the paddle of one of the eventual winners (last picture), who didn’t need to be so aggressive to win the trophy made of cardboard and tape.

Still, Sherry thought racing was thrilling from beginning to end. A woman came up to her and said, ‘I just want to say you’re the most awesome Mom.”

The Red Hook team took home the prize for “Most Ambitious.”

Their boat held up, unlike many, including the one below:

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So…Could you escape by cardboard and tape boat? Build it like a pizza slice, and then maybe.

 

Big Puffy Bunnies

Big Puffy Bunnies

Two-story air-filled white rabbits are decorating Capitalism Central—an area near the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. Oh the metaphors you could draw from that, but instead, here are some photos of the seven giant bunnies. The art installation is called Intrude, by Amanda Parer. It is at the Brookfield Center—formerly The World Financial Center—on the Hudson River for just a week.

Click on an image to enlarge it, and you can scroll through them all and see the captions.

Easter Parade, 5th Avenue

Easter Parade, 5th Avenue

Here are some of the fantastic people (and one rabbit) who caught my eye. Click on an image to enlarge it, and you can scroll through them all.

Nice little old lady isn’t

A great moment in a great chilly brilliant day in New York:

I stopped in front of the Punjab Deli on Houston St. on the Lower East Side to lean on an iron rail basking for a few minutes in the sunshine. A tiny ancient person, bent over a bubbe cart, passed and said, “It’s nice in the sun.” I said it sure was. She stopped, turned her head up toward me, and out of the side of her mouth, like she was telling me a secret, she said, “I’m going to the corner for cookies.” 

About five minutes later, I headed the same way, and she had just made it to the corner, that’s how slowly she was going. I was surprised that she went into the fancy Union Market. I went in behind her, but the narrow lanes were crowded, so I hesitated as the old woman trundled on. Then came the highlight of the day: She shouted at the good-looking tall people in the way, “Get the fuck outta the aisle.”

I went on to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village where the most magnificent elm is shedding its leaves.

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