Monday, February 11, 2013

Fort Tryon under Snow

On the A train on Saturday, we were heading for Inwood, at the end of the line, and the northern tip of Manhattan (and field garlic country, for this forager). At the last minute we changed our minds and decided to see Fort Tryon - an Olmsted-designed park - instead; it's two stops south of Inwood Hill Park.

The subway station at 190th Street is deep inside Manhattan schist and one climbs steeply to return to the light.

And what light.

There were a lot of people strolling, but the snow was clean, the air like champagne, and there was not a human being without a smile on its face. If the pulse of the city had been taken on this afternoon, it would would have been found to be vibrating at a pitch of happiness rare in town of 8.3 millions souls. United in a strange and wonderful whiteness we did what New Yorkers never do: greeted each other with smiles and nods as we passed.

Small, colds winds came off the water of the Hudson below and caused minute blizzards of ice crystals, flying from branches in the high sunlight. Pictured above and below is the Heather Garden - restored to Olmsted's design after serious 1970's and 80's neglect, and one of the first gardens resurrected by Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project.

Tobogganing was in full swing.

We climbed, heading towards The Cloisters, to the north (below), and passing snowboarders and snowman builders, and people just sitting, and looking.

And then we dipped again, and with the descent we lost the sunlight and were in a pale blue world of shadow and never-ending trees and more snow.

The Brueghel world beneath. 

And back up another hill. 

I had forgotten about the "suggested donation " at the Cloisters. $50, suggested the machine. I blanched. To put this in perspective, The Cloisters is located on a hill above Washington Heights, traditionally a lower income Dominican neighbourhood, with a smattering of yuppies and artists and  better-off residents. $50 for two. I thought that was rude, inappropriate and more than discriminatory. I felt guilty paying only $25. Welcome, neighbours.

The great, hushed rooms smelled of the orange blossom on the small trees with green oranges in an arcade of old stone and windows facing south. Icicles dripped in the courtyard.

With a cellphone message asking us for early help for an evening party, we turned back to the east and found our subway station again, entering a subterranean passage at the foot of the rocky hill, and riding the A train back to Brooklyn, under the cold and snowy length of the island of Manhattan, dipping beneath the East Rover, rising again to leave us at Borough Hall.

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