Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New York Spring: LES

When I left work this evening I decided to pursue my papaya dream: head to Chinatown to pick up a green papaya for one of my favourite salads: fish sauce, lime, ginger and garlic, palm sugar, chiles...the dressing for shredded, firm green papaya. Green papaya is not just a vaguely unripe sweet papaya. It is entirely green, through and through. Oh, I took a picture. Later.

So, south I went, down Forsyth, with the park between me and Christie Street. I was cross, and frustrated and tired of New York. Tired of pushing for results, tired of honking horns, tired of...Tired. Sommer moeg. By the time I was at Grand and heading down the Bowery I was feeling better. There's so much to see. Except my papaya shop had removed all their fresh produce from the sidewalk. I never found out why because they don't speak any English. Back I went to old standby's on Christie and Grand. Not expecting to find any I thought to substitute Chinese cabbage, shredded. But there they were. A boxful like green footballs. A small friendly man packed my ginger, garlic and cilantro into the ubiquitous orange bag, and I headed across the road for fruit. I had seen a 5 for $5 sign above some very good looking mangos. In Cobble Hill they are 3 for $5. The curved kind. I bought five plus three small ripe papayas for breakfast. I don't usually succumb to stress but I could feel myself teetering. Tummy in knots. Which sends me straight to the pantry for medicine. Sweet papayas (paw-paws) are calming. It's true!

So, laden, but not too laden, with three orange bags I went back north, walking on the eastern side of the long park, Sarah D. Roosevelt, that separates Christie and Forsyth. Hm. I wrote a poem about it once. To my left people were playing serious soccer on the fields renovated a few years ago (Synlawn). Asian, black, white, indeterminate, pale brown, dark beige, men, women. Italians, Chinese. Africans. All together. The people watching were the same. Old Chinese ladies walked slowly, stopping to look at a blooming shrub.

Higher up, in the community garden, dark black Bob was holding court - he is the mayor of the garden. It was beautiful. I walked through it, smelling the lilacs, in lacy bloom, looking at irises, forget-me-nots, Solomon's Seal, paeonies; seeing a gorgeous songbird with red and black markings [an American Redstart, ID'd thanks to a neighbour's link on his blog], the lovely viburnum in the middle like a single, calm permanence; watching a small girl and her father walking respectfully down the mulched, wild paths. It almost brought me to tears. The same city. Hard, hard city. Beautiful, peopled, used-up city. Softened and made real and made to heal, even.

All I wanted was my Frenchie and shakerful of dry martinis, or a cold bottle of white wine, to sit at one of the chess tables and share a drink or a simple picnic, with the city hurtling by down Christie, and the layers of shrubs and trees quietly tearing down the energy and the anger, and putting something back into the air, that so often we don't even realize is missing.



Bluebells

Cranesbill

Paeonies...




Irises



Lilac



Solomon's Seal.

Strawberry and bunny.

6 comments:

  1. Well, I'm ashamed not to be better at reading English out loud, but in my head, I do pretty well. Beautiful post. "... and the layers of shrubs and trees quietly tearing down the energy and the anger, and putting something back into the air, that so often we don't even realize is missing." The ocean does the same for me here. :-)

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  2. I miss your Pacific...and you have more ocean than we have gardens :-)

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  3. yes - you write so well. I can almost feel I was there. Sounds like the community garden is flourishing since last year. the lilacs are breath-taking

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  4. yes - you write so well. I can almost feel I was there. Sounds like the community garden is flourishing since last year. the lilacs are breath-taking

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  5. Hi Marijks. I thought of you...Happy birthday again!

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