We live within spitting difference of Olmstead’s “other” New York park. Most of the time, our street is incredibly quiet. But on Saturday and Sunday mornings, it becomes a highway for preschoolers headed to the playlot at the end of the road. It’s already clear to us that the park defines our neighborhood and our life here. We go there every day. AJ and Mr. Spy go after school nearly every day to play baseball or toss a football around. Today AJ and I found a Frisbee and went up to the ballfields to play catch.
On sunny weekends – and the weather has been truly spectacular here for the last week – the park is packed with people doing all kinds of things. One of the things AJ and I, at least, like about the park is that people do things in it that in the suburbs would be done behind closed doors. And I don’t mean that to sound as dirty as it came out, but I’m sure there’s some of that too.
Today when we crossed to the wooded area past the playground, there were people taking lessons from someone in some kind of martial art involving what looked like samurai swords. It was slow and beautiful to watch, sort of like a cross between tai chi and fencing with a touch of modern dance thrown in.
We passed a group of people playing some kind of middle eastern instruments under a tree. We passed family reunions and birthday parties and barbecues. We passed softball games and soccer games and football games. We passed an array of volleyball courts and some people playing cricket. We stopped to watch a group of jugglers and to listen to a saxophone player, standing alone on a small wooded hill, first playing scales, then putting on headphones and playing to jazz standards. He was good.
This weekend we have seen a lot of unexplained fairy wings. On little girls twirling on the sidewalk, on adults waiting for the light to change, and even on a dog sitting outside the stoop sale at the building next door.
We continue to marvel at the array of “organic,” “gourmet,” and “artisanal” food. Our corner store manages to work all three into the sign in their window.
I took a short walk a few blocks over to see if I could identify the yoga studio I want to try in a long row of brownstones. On my way home, I passed some cute children selling lemonade at their parents’ stoop sale. I don’t have many hard and fast rules in my life, but one I try to adhere to is Always buy lemonade from children. The boy (maybe 6?) told me, “It’s really, REALLY homemade.” “Yeah, we made it ourselves,” said his older sister. “How could I say know?” I said, fully expecting reconstituted Country Time from a powder. But I was wrong – it was fresh squeezed, not too sweet, and perfect for the walk home on a sunny September afternoon. Even the stoop-sale lemonade is artisanal.
Interestingly, “Artisanal” is also the name of the restaurant where I interviewed for the job I now have. It’s not in this neighborhood, though. Probably an oversight of some sort.
On our way home, I asked AJ how he is liking it here. He gave me two thumbs up. “Do you like it better here or at our old house?”
“Because it’s different or because you like it better?”
“Both. I think.”