While I’m hesitant to accept the theory of global warming, there have been some bizarre weather patterns of late. Last weekend it was warmer in Syracuse, my place of residence than it was in New York City. This was contrary to my understanding of things. It’s always been at least ten degrees warmer in Central Park than it’s been in Syracuse!
But my wife and I went from Syracuse, where’d we’d been digging ourselves out all winter, to New York, where it was actually cooler. There may be several explanations for this. New York is close to the water, and thus retains the cooler temperatures longer. And the City has been disrupted by severe weather systems over the past months. Nor did it help that we traveled there about two weeks too early to get the full enjoyment of spring.
Nevertheless it was a pleasant weekend there. Leaves were appearing on a number of trees, and we chose to explore Brooklyn Heights and lower Manhattan. We came out of a subway station into Brooklyn Heights, a quiet place with fine old homes dating back to the 1830’s.
Brooklyn always seems a bit more domestic than Manhattan. People in Manhattan also try to go on with their personal lives. I’ve seen people carrying Christmas trees home to their apartments in Greenwich Village, and parents walking with their well-clad children on the upper west side.
But Brooklyn seems a bit less rushed, and in that sense anyway it is more domestic. We walked past a park where people were able to have their dogs rush about. Nearby were parents with strollers for their infants, and lovers on dates. It should be noted that a home-agricultural movement has recently spouted up in Brooklyn. People are raising chickens and growing vegetables on their rooftops.
A pizza place in Brooklyn Heights had a long line in front of it, so we went instead to a homemade ice cream place. Here the ice cream was excellent. We walked then across the Brooklyn Bridge, that rare item that is both a marvel of engineering and work of art.
People walked in thick groups on the Bridge, often spilling over to the bicycle lane. One bicyclist shouted to someone, “Can’t you see the line, stupid!” And he was quickly challenged by a few pedestrians. Obviously he was used to quarrelling with pedestrians.
After a short while, we arrived in lower Manhattan, that odd place that is, in effect, an old Dutch village crowded with giant buildings. The streets, such as Wall Street, are narrow early seventeenth century routes, and the large buildings only allow sunlight here and there.
Finally we went to the South Street Seaport, where I enjoy looking at the old mast ships. We sat outside at an Unos restaurant, and looked back at Brooklyn over the narrow river.
And I thought suddenly of Walt Whitman. After being enchanted with Whitman in college over “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, I had become impatient with him. He was an author who badly needed an editor. But as I sat at the South Street Seaport, looking at scenes of almost overwhelming variety, I understood, for a moment, why he wrote as he did.
Our weekend was concluded with a Broadway Show. The Addams Family is a funny musical, although the plot was resolved three scenes before the finale. The songs, with one exception, failed to move the story forward. But on Broadway you almost always get topnotch performances, and it was a pleasure to see Roger Rees and Bebe Neuworth in the leads.