Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brooklyn Bridge Park

I think the seeds took.

In late June this area was a barren slope on a berm surrounding the children's' play areas in the then-newly opened part of the long, long Brooklyn Bridge Park. That was a hot day, when sweat ran in rivers down me, soaking into the waistband of the dress I wore, on a day when it seemed that summer would never end, on the way back from eating lobster rolls at the Red Hook Lobster Pound (and a heck of a lot cheaper than the lobster rolls in Rockport, where they haul lobsters out right there...).

The park, that day, was jammed with strollers and parents and children and it looked like hell, though the swings and slides and water parks looked well considered in a rather over designed way. Whatever happened to see-saws? I loved see-saws. I had a wonderful technique where, if I brought my end down hard enough with a whump! (it was padded with half a tyre), I could project my partner into the air at the other end, so that their bottom left their seat for a full two seconds, and then be reciprocally propelled when my turn came to be on the upside.

Where was I?

Rudbeckia. It was a wonderfully yellow slope this evening. Things had gone as planned.

Here is an empty stretch of New York. Although the renovated apartment building on the water is filling up, these new benches and the road behind it were deserted, so it is a good place to sit and think and watch the boats go by.

We had to go back to the (very busy) road under the BQE and Promenade, three tiers above us, to walk to Pier 1, at the foot of the bridge, the part that opened first, in the early spring, but the bike lane connecting these sections was open last weekend and probably will be again soon. This evening it was locked at both ends, thwarting bikers and joggers who had to turn around, muttering.

But WHAT a change since the last time I was here, which was for a June picnic. It has grown. And not only grown, but many plants seem to have been added, in the way of perennials and small trees. I saw sassafras saplings, a lot of rhus (sumac), masses of Panicum virgatum (panic grass), Lobelia cardinalis with its feet appropriately wet in the now-wet marshy garden, a lot of bog grasses (could it be salt hay? Spartina patens?), and ferns - not sure which they are...ostrich?

Really impressive. Exciting, actually. I am sorry about the pictures. Long story, but I will return and take good ones.

And! In this tidal area, it looked as though a rice paddy had materialized. More marsh grasses which, at evening's end, had disappeared under the incoming tide. I'd like to know what they area.

There they are again beside the old pilings. The beautiful old brick building has now been totally demolished, in the background. So much for Landmarks.

It rained Saturday night, Sunday, Sunday night and it rained last night, and so it rained the mulch away, below. And it rained the plants into greenness. Many of the shrubs, viburnum especially, still had sunburned leaves from the awful, hot days of three rainless months. Those were the Mohawks that smelled so sweet in the spring.

Panic grass, below. I love it. It will be wonderfully sculptural in the winter.

Some very happy sparrows flitted in and out of the grass near the granite steps.

Monday evening and quite empty.

Water taxi doing its thing.

Ferries doing theirs.

We returned after pizza at Patsy Grimaldi's. I look forward to Vince's post on the subject. He actually came out of the bathroom, grabbed his camera, and went back in, with a grim look on his face...

There were little chirruping noises from the bog. No, I did not do anything to the colour.

We walked as far as we could, to a new tidal pool with slipway, presumably for kayaks. I sat frozen in the dark on a rock while Vince shot a panorama around me, with all the photos that it employs, and watched tiny schools of tiny fish dart out of the water, disappear again and then resurface feet away as something larger and unseen chased them. There was no one else.

In the city of 8 million we were the only two people at the water, facing the lights, hundreds of them, with the traffic of the BQE in red streamers at our backs, and the little silver fishes darting like wind-ruffled white water in the darkness of the East River's rising tide, as they fought for their watery lives, just a few feet away from us.


8/28/10 For a sunnier update, read this post


  1. what a magnificent set of pictures...that field of Rudbeckia is amazing! and to think you had it all to yourselves...no joggers, runners, walkers, strollers, motorbikes, etc. Speaking of urban gardens, how did the median strip do this year that you planted last year?

  2. Oh QC, it looks AWFUL!

    It has not been maintained as it should have been and fried in the summer drought. Very sad.

  3. You might've already seen this, but they are indeed offering (free!) kayaking and canoeing off BBP. August and September only. More info here!

  4. You make NYC totally the opposite of what we see in the news and how we think it is. Thru your eyes it's a never fully disclosed garden. Love your photos.

  5. Those are great pictures! Next time I'm over there I'm skipping the kids water park and big slide and dragging Huck directly to those tidal areas.

  6. This is one of the loveliest pieces I've ever read.
    They say "see Paris and die." Your New York is my goal.

  7. Jill - thanks for the link - excellent...

    webb - I'm really glad about that. I hear that sometimes, and wish I knew how 'your' New York looks. People we met in Rockport made knowing comments about how it must be nice to be able to walk safely at night and I'm listening politely and saying, But I always walk safely at night...

    Ms Bikini - well, he has the best name for paddling in this old river :-)

    dinahmow, thank you so much. The spirit moves me, sometimes; there is a poignancy to the place, the contradictions...

  8. Gorgeously written. It's true what webb says: that you show New York to be a never fully disclosed garden.

    So well said; even better done.


Comments on posts older than 48 hours are moderated (for spam control) . Yours will be seen! Unless you are a troll. Serial trollers are banned.