Saturday, August 25, 2007
Vacation, Part 1: New York City
I love getting a chance to see how other people live and, of course, I love seeing how they get their gardening fixes. On a recent trip to New York City my older daughter and I walked miles every day, although apparently New Yorkers would say we walked blocks. Everything there is measured in blocks and directions are given as "five blocks", "ten and a half blocks" etc. On our first morning we took the subway to Brooklyn, then walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. The pedestrian/bike path was above the roadway and we had a wonderful view of the NYC skyline. As we reached the end of the bridge we passed a lovely bed of blooming perennials and then entered a tree shaded plaza. We continued on, wandering through the Civic Center, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Soho and before we knew it (in only a few hours!) we had walked back to the guest studio we were renting in the West Village. I was so impressed with the availability of green spaces for people to enjoy...every where we went we saw garden beds, containers, trees surrounded by annuals and an incredible number of parks. I'm amazed at the amount of money that must be spent on replanting each year and the upkeep of everything! One day as we walked we passed a magical children's garden planted by a school. What a great opportunity for those children!
The view of Central Park from the Top of the Rock was unreal...what a blessing to have this retreat so easily accessible! When we got down into the park we found it filled with parents, nannies and children enjoying the zoo, Alice in Wonderland sculpture and water. Older people were out sitting on benches just getting a nature fix, and the paths were full of walkers and joggers.
We saw buildings covered in several stories of green, roof top gardens complete with trees, and greenhouses ten or more stories up, overlooking Bryant Park. I loved seeing Strawberry Fields, which was a designated quiet area ( for which I was grateful...somehow I could envision dueling versions of "Imagine" and it wasn't a good thought!).
We also visited The Cloisters, a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan. Built from parts of five medieval cloisters, all of the items are medieval artifacts. But what I found most interesting were the gardens, which were recreations of medieval gardens with different sections devoted, among other things, to medicinal plants, food plants, and plants used for dyes. The Cloisters is about a ten minute walk from the subway through Fort Tryon Park and the paths are lined with incredible beds of blooming perennials, complete with an impressive number of butterflies and bees. It was a great break from the level of energy felt elsewhere in Manhattan! I now have several things to ponder...the idea of how people will find a way to have a bit of nature among the subways and busy streets...the happy surprise at how much green was visible, how many trees and plants there actually were...and a realization that there is no way all those people could eat locally. I'm thinking that those of us who are blessed with an abundant local food supply perhaps have a responsibility to eat locally and offset the many people who don't have the luxury of that choice. For the past seven months we've worked at increasing our proportion of locally raised food but I haven't considered it a responsibility...rather just a good idea to cut down on transportation costs and environmental effects and a way to support family farms. Now I'm thinking there may be more to it than that...and as I said, there is a lot to ponder. It's a good thing to have a vacation that makes you think. Oh...and the Broadway shows were great!