A reader (I say that as if I have many, but it was really a relative) told me recently that my blog is basically a long love letter to Scotland. Still. Do you think that, too? Apparently I am still longing for that place, even though I haven’t dreamed of touching a damp stone wall in months. While I want to write this post completely in the present, I need the past to compare, yet again. Bear with me.
Filtering the past through the present, through where I am today, polishes it off, and so I want to remember the thick, dense, wet grass that is the form of the color green itself. I want to remember narrow streets with slow, tiny cars bubbling along, and tonight I am longing to find Wensleydale and dirty carrots in my fridge. Oh quiet life with time for sitting down with no preconception or goal to the conversations, with just the desire to sit in a warm, small place together—you were good.
But even the mighty romantic Wordsworth could pine for rich air and the pastoral peace, and yet appreciate the mass of civilization in a city. You know this one about London:
Earth hath not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
So that’s what this is about—–loving the natural world and my memories of living closer to it, but appreciating the conjunction of ideas and spaces that the city brings.
Here’s something you might not imagine of city life. At night, to calm down, I look outside. I sit on the couch and watch across a river with shaky reflection as sirens slide blinking along. Boats pass. Below the window, people are talking, dogs are sniffing. Across the street, artists are painting walls. The motion flows, but inside it is quiet and white-walled, and that separation shows that there is calm and peace somewhere, and I am in it. It is soothing to watch all that activity and be set apart.
Have you heard of ramps? They look like a baby leek, smell like onion grass, and taste like sweet garlic. So I made a gruyere and ramp quiche—my place of peace here. Getting food from farms helps me cope with this citystyle—and I’m so grateful for yellow carrots and rich, jewel-toned beets. And ramps with dirt—I used my dirt scrubber from Scotland.
And it felt good to have dirt on my hands.
In other New York news . . .
There is always news here—always something to talk about. The drizzle. The building next door has sprouted royal blue scaffolding. Across the street, a building is being scooped out clean, the street is full of containers of broken wall like stale bread, and the bareness is refreshing. The free newspaper man has changed three times this week at the Broadway-Lafayette stop. An excitable puppy and new neighbors have come to our hall.
Things New Yorkers love this week: Spitting into the subway—I am far more scared of being spit on than rats. Red-orange raincoats. Vuitton bags. Tory Burch flats (which are beyond old now). Ray Bans. Neon everything.
Things I love: My grocery store. Rhubarb season. A weekend visit from old friends where we sat on the roof and yelled over trains and ate the best pizza anywhere. My new (glass!) waterbottle. Scholastic’s Sushi Monster app (for little kids—so adorable!). Our neighborhood. Pandora (we are reunited after years of being outside an office).
Ramps to slide me outside the city into a fresher, more pastoral world.
And letters. From my 5th-grade penpal in Texas who always writes “My” instead “NY” on my address. And from him. I’ve been reading our love emails from years ago. I’ve been reading my blog letters to Scotland when we lived there. They radiate with newness and newfound joys. It’s Spring, and even here, in this mania of a city, there is newness, and peace.