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Thursday, February 18, 2010

New York City Trip - Part 5

January 16-25, 2010: I awaken to the wonderful smell of bacon frying. Ahhhh...nothing beckons at this early morning hour to break the bond with dreamland quite like that ever-popular, sizzling treat from the kitchen. My senses, now fully awakened, are alert to sounds of movement within this 6th floor apartment - or rather, I should say, lack of movement. Ohhhhh...this choice breakfast meat must be sizzling away in some other apartment close by. Could it be the apartment next door? Could the smell be drifting in from the open window next to the sofa where I lie? Could the smell be coming in from the wall electrical plug-in behind the coach? Alas, what does it matter for whom the bacon sizzles - if it doesn't sizzle for thee! I will counter with tempting food scents of my own contriving.

This was one of the mornings during my visit with Steven, Sara and the twins that I made a quick trip to the local grocery down the street for breakfast goodies. The smell of cinnamon rolls warming in the microwave along with the smell of coffee and cooking oatmeal can also lure sleepyheads out of bed.

I am content to spend as much time as possible with my New York family. The baby girls are a delight to behold with their sweet faces of ever-changing expressions. Steven laments that he misses out on so much just going to work each day: Magnolia and Dorothy's daily progress in holding their heads up on their own, their laughing out loud for the first time, that intense eye-contact, and their unique personalities emerging. I think of how much I will miss them when I am back in Texas.

Steven and Sara encourage me to get out of the apartment and enjoy the sights a bit during this opportune visit. Sara suggests a visit to the old Jefferson Market Courthouse in the West Village. This impressive building was saved from demolition and converted into a branch of the New York Public Library in the 1950s. I had noticed the prominent, red-bricked, Bavarian castle-like landmark on my several treks to Citarella Market. During Raleigh's and my spring visit to New York City several years ago, Steven and Sara had taken us on a stroll through the community garden next to the library, both being located on a triangular plot of land formed by Greenwich Avenue & West 10th Street and 6th Avenue. Sara reminds me to take my camera as she is sure I will want to capture the beauty of the many leaded, stained-glass windows from within the building.

I head out the door of the apartment building into the cold, late afternoon air and am enveloped into the bustling New York scene. I pass by several police cars slowly motoring with other cars down W. 9th Street as I near 6th Avenue. Sara and I had noticed sirens earlier. At the corner, I notice more police cars - these parked across the avenue near the intersection. Policemen are directing people across the street - lots of people around - most of them talking on their cell phones. I even notice a local TV news van parked down the street. I don't see any emergency vehicles and traffic does seem to be progressing slowly along the streets. I assume that whatever happened has already taken place and has been mostly taken care of by the police.

I proceed across 6th Avenue and check out the community garden, but I notice nothing blooming this time of year. I walk along Greenwich Avenue and then cut back along W. 10th Street which connects with 6th Avenue. At the avenue entrance to the library, I walk up the front steps and enter this spacious building with its high ceilings, luminous stained-glass windows, and winding staircase to the upper floors. I take lots of pictures! I think about the twins coming here to check out library books or to enjoy the special programs offered. A beautiful setting for reading!

Back outside, I go north down the sidewalk along 6th Avenue (also named the Avenue of the Americas) to check out a small art store/print shop I had passed on my way to the Food Emporium grocery near W. 12th Street earlier in the week. I overhear a lady speaking to her young son in French. I love the musical flow of her words. As I step inside the shop, the owner (I presume), is talking with a lady customer in a language I can't identify. I look at large, framed photos of Washington Square Arch and other architecturally pleasing pictures of New York brownstones, parks and skyscrapers, etc. My attention is drawn to a large painting of the familiar, lime green storefront of the Vesuvio Bakery in SoHo. Steven and Sara had treated Raleigh and me to a delectable lunch at this popular historic eatery on an earlier visit. I was saddened to hear from Steven that it had closed its door to business in the past year and that the store was up for rent. Later, talking with the shop owner, I pointed to the painting and remarked on Vesuvio's closing being too bad. The older gentleman just replied, matter-of-factly - "Well, times change!" Perhaps that sums up the general New York attitude of getting on with the present and not spending a lot of time looking back. I leave the shop and turn at the corner away from 6th Avenue to walk down W. 11th Street eastward to 5th Avenue. This is a long block!

The Manhattan streets above Greenwich Village are laid out on a straight grid pattern of avenues running north to south and streets running east to west. Most are one-way, alternating, except for Park Avenue which runs both ways. 5th Avenue is the dividing line between the East and West sides. Distinguishing their considerable differences in length, going a block along a street is considered a long block, and going a block along an avenue is considered a short block. Twenty short blocks is approximately a mile. So, if one were to walk down 5th Avenue, from 29th Street to 9th Street, then that would be a mile walk. Walking down 5th Avenue from the Empire State Building southward to Washington Square Park is equal to walking 26 short blocks, or 1.3 miles. So, I could easily walk from Steven and Sara's apartment to the Empire State Building, but then I would have to walk all that way back!

I stroll along 5th Avenue to 18th Street and spot a large Barnes & Noble Book Store which I choose as a likely spot to find a restroom. The restrooms are located way in the back where the visitor is enticed to peruse the many shelves of books and nice displays when finished with the foremost task in mind. I am such a visitor. On my return from the ladies' room, I check over the display table of Newbery Medal-winning fiction for young people. Having been a 5th grade teacher, I can still appreciate the joy of reading such books. I look through one with several adorable line drawings about a hound dog living in the swamps with a cruel master. I love dog stories - like Old Yeller, Where The Red Fern Grows, etc. This hound invites a forlorn, abandoned, soon-to-be-a-mother cat to share his space under the cabin porch. He grows very protective of her newborn kitties - but warns them all to stay under the porch, or else they would likely become alligator bait if his master ever caught them. But then, one of the kitties is very curious..... I keep the book in hand and look at another one. This one is a young girl's journaling of living through the depression years of the 30s in a Midwestern state. It is full of fine poetry. The young girl is motherless - did her mother die, run away? I leave that section with the 2 books and come by the shelf that has Sarah Palin's book. I thumb through it, looking at the pictures. I put it down, return the other 2 books to their table in the back, and proceed to the front of the store. Then I notice in the travel section the Top 10 New York City guide to the 10 best of everything. Yep, I buy it. Might pick up some choice tidbits for future visits.

Leaving the store, I notice the Empire State Building to the north is awash in bright green light. During this past Christmas season when we had visited here, it was red and green. The sky is getting dark and the temperature colder as I head down 5th Avenue to the apartment. Quite a nice exhilarating outing!

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