Thursday, August 7, 2008

There will be a wine festival in New York City in October. My favorite stars from the Food Network will be there. I can’t attend this October—we’re invited to a wedding that weekend, BUT, I could get there! The addresses given for the festivities are familiar to me now. I could get there by train, then go by taxi or bus (I didn’t quite master the subway). The city was opened up to me by Carolyn—a New Yorker, a friend, a woman of the world, who came into our lives when she met my brother on a trip to Russia. Carolyn traveled extensively on assignments for “Modern Bride” and “Better Homes and Gardens” as well as other publications. And she knows New York City and how to get anywhere she needs to go. When I was in New York she not only showed me around, she showed me how to get around. We went by foot, taxi, bus, subway and boat. I learned what a “New York minute” was as we sped around from place to place and probably saw more in a week than I could have seen any other way. Carolyn was an amazing tour guide, showing me the big picture of Manhattan and surrounding areas by boat as well as intimate glimpses into local shops and independent movie theaters. In a little French restaurant I met her friend in whose art studio I stayed for the week. Rachel was Editor of Country Living magazine for many years—for its best years, actually. That was the magazine that inspired me for those same years—I still have many of those copies and they still inspire me. I get them back out for every Thanksgiving and every Christmas. I don’t buy the new ones. They’re not the same. While I was there, in Rachel’s studio, I had the lights of the Chrysler building shining in my window like a lit-up Christmas tree every night. It was a wonderful place to stay. I spent some time every morning just looking out that window across the city--I miss it. From there I could walk to a little park by the Hudson River or to Central Park and everything in between. I learned that New York City on an early Sunday morning can look like "the morning after" just like a person and that it quickly whips back into shape by Monday morning, as if nothing had ever happened. I'll always remember the flowers and fruits on every street corner and the buses and taxis that took turns blowing horns at each other. The Broadway show was wonderful and Indian food and the borscht were the best. I saw Bergdorf Goodman's, Tiffany's, Wall Street and I saw the statue in the Conservatory that was inspired by one of my favorite stories, "The Secret Garden." I saw where the World Trade Center used to stand and heard protesters shouting in front of the Chinese Embassy. I left, knowing movies of New York and stories in New York would now be familiar and that I had become a tiny bit of a New Yorker myself.
"Thank you, Carolyn” and “Thank you, Rachel” for a week I’ll always remember.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What I loved most about my recent trip to New York City was the discovery of neighborhoods! There was such a diversity of neighborhoods—all within an easy walk or bus ride. I wasn’t so much blown away by the skyscrapers and the fancy stores and glamour of the city as by the little Italian shop that had the best parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar and the little rice pudding cafĂ© that had only rice pudding, but the creamiest, best, rice pudding I’ve ever had outside of home. Chinatown was like a little piece of another country and the fresh produce in the neighborhood groceries, especially Eli’s, was amazing. It’s rather fascinating to imagine going home every day with all those neighborhoods, rich and poor, ethnic and glitzy—skyscrapers and saltwater—all around. I’ve always lived in the country—it’s my home—it’s beautiful and my first choice for where to wake up in the morning, but while I’m sitting on my deck watching the leaves change over fields and mountain this fall and the snow drift in from the west this winter, I’ll think about all those people in all those neighborhoods up there in New York City.