Saturday, June 2, 2012

Picnic on the east bank of the East River

Penstemon digitalis

In the metallic pre-evening Vince and I headed to Pier One with a picnic and a paper bag. I was worried about missing the juneberries slash serviceberries slash Amelanchier. Last year I collected them two weeks later, in mid June.

Amelanchier x grandiflora

The tree closest to home and farthest from most human traffic was quite empty of fruit. Either foraged by someone who knew what they were doing, or picked at by passersby. Closer to the Fulton Landing their branches still hung heavy with the red and purple berries. Sweet as apples. I picked a small bagful. The park has become busier as more people have found it, and I can't help feeling self conscious, collecting fruit that otherwise drops to the ground.

Sambucus canadensis

The elder flowers were profuse and sweet-smelling. No wonder I like St Germain at this time of year. Essence of...

Meatballus vietnamesus

I had made last-minute meatballs, spiked with finely chopped lemon grass, fish sauce and scallions. A mango and avocado salad with a little bottle of fresh lime juice, hot chiles, sugar and fish sauce, shaken and poured over on site (I appropriated the pretty little jars, then containing honey, from my mom's hotel room when she was here in April. Perfect for picnic vinaigrettes and sauces.)

On the blurred water yachts and tourist party boats and barges and taxis went up and down. On the slipway a few feet beneath us photographers came and went - this is a favoured view of Manhattan, over the flooded pilings. As the light fell, wharf rats scampered down to the water. I drew my legs up under my skirt.

On our walk back we saw a night heron glide down to the tidal basin and perch on a rock. Above and beyond the bird we saw billowing smoke black against the bright nightline sky and strobing emergency lights on the Brooklyn Bridge. Behind the chainlink fences where one day Pier Five will rise from the wasteland, a long-furred feral cat with missing ears slunk upon its business. We tossed leftover pieces of duck liver pâté sandwich over the fence. Instead of coming closer, the cat bolted, used to being chased. Near home, at Pier Six,  in the thick syringa hedges and berms planted with rudbeckia, crickets were singing.


  1. So you actually foraged those little jars, too? seems fitting.

    maybe you need to make yourself an official looking nametag and wear it when you forage ... so you look like you are on official duty.

  2. I've always felt self-conscious painting in public. Is there a way to be invisible?

    We nibbled on your harvest until we made some scones. Then I remembered the flavor from the flask you gave at my opening!

  3. Or...Saskatoon berries, as we call them in Canada!

  4. love,love,love that last picture - thank you!

  5. Yummy meatballus vietnamesus! that picnic plate looks pretty special too? x

  6. i am the only one savvy (so far) to the amelanchier cherries at my workplace. waiting...

  7. Meatballs:


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