Our trip to the Rockaways recently, soon after Vince's first expedition, was hot hot hot. For car-less New Yorkers, or non cyclists (we need to get bikes), the trip is an almighty schlepp. The 2/3 subway to the last stop in Brooklyn, then a bus. For which you wait, and wait and wait. But the waiting can be interesting. On a jammed thoroughfare in Brooklyn, on a chewing gummed sidewalk with no shade, a perfect cross section of people waits for the bus to the beach. Because the Rockaways means beach.
A barrier island ( I think Frank first explained that to me, in a comment here; it seems years ago), a narrow tongue of sand on the other side of Jamaica Bay (think previous posts: - the Wildlife Refuge and Dead Horse Bay), real surf, real sand. 'A' marks the spot: Fort Tilden, a national park. The red line is home to beach. The point of the A is on the Rockaways (which are part of Queens), the round part pretty much over Dead Horse Bay.
On our last trip, while waiting for the bus, a family of beautiful long-legged black girls with small children debated whether to catch a dollar van to the beach. This part of Brooklyn is ill-served by public transport and the vans are prolific. Four pale white boys with hipster haircuts and beards and similar noses toted cloth bags, a bottle of Pimms and a cooler with ice. People of every shade, shape and age jostled to get aboard the bus when it arrived at last.
We cross a bridge, and we are there. Everyone piles off. A walk down a road, the dry-grassy expanse of Fort Tilden, some kind of raucous cooler party happening, with shade tents and music and people jammed around their coolers, a community garden of vegetable plots (we look for Frank's and I can't find it), a baseball diamond, and then an overgrown tar road heading into the sun. We take that. We've already lost everyone else.
We start to see things. Milkweed pods! I collect them for later trials.
The Queen Anne's lace is just starting.
We climb wooden steps up a sandy hill, swatting buzzing things in the heat, and dodge dozens of giant dragon flies zipping about. A graffiti'd (depressing in this case) outlook deck gives us this view over the Atlantic. Behind us we can see Manhattan. To the right, Coney Island in sepia haze.
We follow a sandy path through the brush (wild cherry, beach plum, bayberry) to the beach.
What surprises me is the sound of surf. The old holiday sound of power and sea and sad.
All of Brooklyn's bicycles are at the beach.
We head back into the greenery, avoiding the crowds. Is this asparagus?
Coreopsis has self seeded.
Some rugosa roses have already set hips. Jelly in my future.
A very, very tame bunny.
Thistley thingies. With Eastern swallowtail.
I saw a lot of Russian olives but few green fruit. Another fruit I want to collect in early fall.
Soapwort. Good for itchy skin, applied externally as weak tea. The whole plant and root in particular, boiled in water, make delicate soap. They say.
And then we trudged back over the bridge, not taking the bus, to check on Dead Horse Bay. It was still there.
The only thing wrong with the day was this. We did not take a picnic. Big. Mistake. By the last hour-plus my back was barking and I was feeling whiney. A baguette with some ham or cheese, a cold beer, a slurp of Kir kept cool in a nifty cool sleeve thingy, hell, even a Coke, and I am sure I would have lasted longer.
Sitting at our bus stop with a Russian couple with sand on their feet, we could watch the bikers heading for home. It was good to see, flight after flight like some kind of Brooklyn migration, from the apartments and the small spaces to the big blue sea and long white sands and back again.
We will go back. With provisions. In better light.