August 30, 2011
The storm seemed to be over by late afternoon on Sunday, but power still hadn’t returned. We’d had rehearsal as planned the day of Hurricane Irene despite the lack of a music source or coffee. That evening, the company members were creatively assembling an elegant dinner for eight out of cold leftovers, in a dark farmhouse kitchen by candlelight, and I was out on the back porch snapping pictures of the sky after the hurricane.
A couple of us were chatting when I spotted the rainbow through the trees and we all dashed for our shoes and cameras to run out to the neighboring field for a better view.
The morning after the storm….
July 26, 2011
The High Line’s second section is open! I visited recently and joined enthusiastic throngs of amateur photographers on a cobalt blue summer day.
This is the view towards 10th Avenue from a garden two stories off the ground. The High Line is one of our newest parks, constructed on top of an elevated train trestle along the far west side that had been abandoned for many years. Preservationists lobbied for years to have it refurbished as a park rather than demolished.
I love it for the unexpected view it gives of the city, and for the horticultural ingenuity it demonstrates, how people will try to grow stuff pretty much anywhere in this city.
The High Line is a fascinating testament to the endless adaptability and resourcefulness of everything and every creature in this place.
April 7, 2011
I had an old friend in town this past weekend and we went to visit The Cloisters in upper Manhattan. (The Cloisters is a museum of medieval European/Christian art and architecture, and the building is actually assembled from bits and pieces of ruined abbeys and monasteries from the 12th-15th centuries.)
I was smitten over and over by the sight of gardens, sky and light through multiple iterations of windows and passageways.
There’s a metaphor about confinement, revelation, seeking, labyrinths, and illumination hiding in there somewhere….
April 10, 2010
When you’re a freelance theater artist, you can often wind up with a very atypical and erratic work schedule. Like this winter and early spring, I’ve been doing a lot of work for Juilliard on a 3:00-10:00 PM schedule, leaving my entire mid-morning free. When I’ve worked a whole day and get home exhausted at 6 or 7 PM and it’s dark and cold out, I’m fine with fixing dinner, cleaning the apartment or other petty chores and curling up in my room with a drink to surf the internet or catch up on TV before bed. But that’s no way to spend a gorgeous spring morning if you don’t have to go to work till 3:00.
So one of the things I’ve loved doing with my morning hours is seeking out places in Manhattan, and beyond, that I haven’t yet made myself familiar with in the five years I’ve lived here.
When I decided that I was moving here, I feel like my family thought I was nuts–being a very introverted person who treasures quiet and nature and open spaces–because a lot of people, when they think of Manhattan, automatically think of Times Square, or Macy’s and the midtown area, or 5th Avenue. But most of New York City actually isn’t anything like that at all, and there are some uniquely charming, stunningly beautiful places here.
Today, my AEA day off from rehearsal for my current project, is a bright, sunny, blustery day which I wanted to be spending exploring Inwood Hill Park, at the northern tip of Manhattan, but alas, I’m at home fighting off debilitating monthly cramps with large quantities of coffee and Irish cream and ibuprofen. Heating pads have never worked much for me, but the warmth of the Macbook on my lap is nice and soothing nonetheless. So that’s why I’m home on a gorgeous day off, blogging about a trip to the park instead of being there. This was my fascinating but slightly heartrending field trip to High Bridge Park on a nice morning in March a couple weeks ago:
High Bridge Park is named for the bridge between Manhattan and the Bronx which once carried the city’s fresh water supply along the Croton Aqueduct by gravity from north of the city. It runs for about 30 blocks along the north-eastern corner of Manhattan. I started walking south from around 178th St. along the Harlem River.
Walking through some of New York’s lesser-known parks can be a saddening experience. NYC has a huge amount of park space to take care of, so the Parks Commission has its hands full to begin with, and I’m sure that between the recession and both city and state budget crises, they have to make some difficult decisions on priorities. Additionally, Central Park suffered massive damage in a brief but fierce summer storm of a type known as a “microburst” last year, which they’re still cleaning up, and which I imagine will continue to be a drag on budgets for months still to come.
The result can be neglect for parks in less-traveled, and frankly, lower-income areas.
High Bridge has lovely architecture and landscaping–bridges, arches, tunnels, curving paths and steep winding stairways, old-fashioned street lamps. But some of it is just in terrible shape. Lamps are broken and gutted and look like they have been for quite some time. I actually saw one street lamp with a thick clump of moss growing where its bulb should be. Stonework is covered in graffiti. Fallen trees and branches laid thickly across paths, and probably not from one of the most recent storms, either, as there were crocuses coming up deep in the depressions left by upended root bulbs.
Call me cynical; I just have a hard time believing that conditions like this in someplace like Central Park would be let go for very long. I hope I just happened to hit High Bridge in an unusually neglected pocket, or that springtime cleanup wasn’t underway yet.
There’s a nice walking/biking trail overlooking the Harlem River, though. And the jewel of the park is the High Bridge water tower, which once upon a time was used to control water pressure across High Bridge itself.
I was disappointed not to be able to go up inside it; it’s locked up. Currently you can’t walk across High Bridge itself, either, though it was once a popular promenade for walkers and bikers. It was closed to traffic after a couple of rock-throwing incidents in the 1970′s, but word is that plans are underway to refurbish and reopen the walkway to the public in 2011, for which I am extremely excited.