Swimming Through a Sea of Roses

IMG_3551

I’m back from NYC now, and one of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the New York Botanical Garden. I’d been wanting to go for a while, but it’s all the way in the Bronx and travel time has always been a deterrent. When I found out that there was a Chihuly exhibit up I decided I finally would make the trip, and though I only ended up seeing a few of his pieces the visit overall was well worth it.

After walking past the closed-early conservatory (boo!) and wandering a little aimlessly across the grounds, I was happy to find myself at Thain Family Forest, full of centuries old trees and pieces of rock reminding us of the age when this part of New York was covered in glaciers. When I came out the other side I was at the Cherry Grove, and although the time for cherries has passed it was still a very pleasant experience, with the cute little trees lining the walkway and dotting the grassy slopes. It made me wish I could go climbing into their branches, and afterward enjoy a picnic with a blanket and a basket; picturesque, like the storybook picnics described in books from my childhood.

IMG_3549

Then the grove ended and I came to the lilac collection, which was also unfortunately not in bloom. I did read a little about how supposedly easy they are to grow and make into hybrids. Apparently they’re one of the most popular flowers in the US, which was news to me, but I don’t know much about plants or gardening really so no surprise there.

Finally, I came to the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, which was in bloom with thousands of stunning roses. Oh my goodness. The whole effect was exquisite, and there were so many different varieties, it was astounding. I took a few pictures and just kind of stood in awe of creation and the amazing God responsible for everything I was seeing. Then I made my way slowly back to the entrance of the Garden, past more beautiful flowers and greenery. Despite the disappointments about my visit, it was still wonderful and restorative, and I’m glad I made the effort to go.

IMG_3554

 

 

Advertisements

3 Things I Love about NYC

IMG_2687
Brooklyn Bridge, by Elora Williams

I’m in NYC! I came partly to visit and partly to finish up a podcast episode that I’ve been working on, and will be here for a couple weeks. I have been looking forward to this trip for months, and was so excited the night before my departure that I couldn’t sleep. Then that morning, as I was getting ready to go to the airport, I was too excited to eat! That is some crazy level of enthusiasm. I can’t remember the last time I was that excited, but it was such a good feeling to have again.

So what is it that I love so much about this city? First of all I think the fact that it is a city. I’ve never met one that I didn’t like, and so I think I’m just a city kind of gal. Pittsburgh, DC, London – give me plenty of people bustling and hustling and my eyes will open wide to take in the energy of it all. Aside from that, here are a few things I really appreciate about New York and have missed since being at home:

  1. The parks. Central Park is obviously the New York park, and it is a truly wonderful place. I’ve been there 3 or 4 times already this trip, and still haven’t had enough. But there are other great parks here too, like Fort Tryon and Inwood Hill. I used to live right next to them and went on many a morning run and evening walk through their paths. I’m staying in Washington Heights and have happily been able to pick up this routine again. It might seem strange that the first thing I talk about is parks after all the characteristically urban points of city living, but I do love being able to escape to green spaces and marvel at the natural glories of the earth.
  2. The bakeries. Um hello! I cannot get enough. I love cooking and food in general, but even before I was responsible for feeding myself baking was my thing. I haven’t met a loaf or pastry at Amy’s Bread that I haven’t liked, Levain has spectacular, ginormous cookies that I’ve described in detail to all my friends, and Empire Cake makes the best dairy free hot chocolate. In addition to hitting these places I’m heading to Chinatown to carry on my new affair with steamed buns and puzzle over the delightful texture of particularly spongy cakes.
  3. Walking. New York is way more pedestrian friendly than Nassau. You could walk all of Manhattan in an almost completely linear fashion if you wanted, cross bridges to the other boroughs and walk through those just the same (though I know less about the Bronx and Queens). It’s so easy to just get up and go, whether or not you want to use public trans – which is so far ahead of what we’re dealing with in The Bahamas I’ll get upset if I think anymore about it. I spent a semester in Ghana my sophomore year in college, and that was something I loved about being there too. People walked everywhere. I walked everywhere. I have flat feet, so they end up being pretty sore after a while, and sometimes for days afterward, but that just means I ought to get better shoes. 😉 Also! You end up real close to people and pass more slowly than you would in car, allowing me frequent “YAS GIRL! Strut your stuff!” and “swoon that is such a well dressed man” moments that are thrilling little bonuses throughout my day.

There are so many other great things about this city, it would be fun to sit down with you and gab about them all. Have you been to New York? What are your favourite things about it?

Possibly Too Personal

IMG_0561

I live next to a park. I can see trees and sky from my windows. As winter gave way to spring, I watched new life emerge from the earth and heard it transform the air. Where before the ground was rocky, barren and still, now there are plants pushing their way to the surface, trees returning to life and animals scampering across the rock face. Where there was relative silence, punctuated by traffic noises, now there are birds ever-chirping. I love my bedroom. I love this park. On weekends, when I can waken slowly and luxuriate in its sights and sounds, I am filled with a sense of wonder and peace, and the possibility of the new day shines brighter, seems greater.

I will be leaving this park soon. Much sooner than I would like or am prepared for. This is a city of transience, where people rarely come to put down roots. I heard this sentiment just Sunday, in church. I don’t exactly want to put down roots here either, but I do want to stay a while longer than I’ve been here so far.

I’ve struggled a lot in the past year with frustration at this world I’ve been born into, with its political systems and antiquated ways of conceiving of and policing the individual based on more or less arbitrary boundaries and bastions of power. It’s hard to focus my frustration on such abstract notions, as real and oppressive as they may be, so I’ve also struggled with resenting people around me who have greater freedoms than I, and thereby greater access than I. It’s a feeling I try not to dwell on, and move to snuff out when it arises – especially because I know have benefited so much from any number of privileges – but it’s a struggle all the same.

Another reality I’ve had to come to grips with is my dispensability. Many times in the past year people have been unwilling to fight for me because they know I’m replaceable. I say “know” because it’s a fact. I am. Sure I have a unique blend of skills, personality traits and experience, but at the end of the day another person could do my job or provide romantic or platonic relational fulfillment. The same is true of all of us; it’s how the world keeps turning. Again, I know that on some level we each touch lives and contribute to the world in individual ways. But sometimes, when business sense or the law or emotions dictate otherwise, we are passed over or cast aside in favour of another person or non-human solution.

So here I am, preparing to move away from my park, to a destination yet unknown. Working to find my footing and direction in spite of realities that oppose my freedom and confidence. Moving ever-forward, pushing past frustration and setbacks.