13 June 2006

surplus recommends: the cloisters

spent sunday afternoon uptown (way) uptown with jeremy, confirming the hunch i'd had before ever even going north of the gwb that when for financial reasons i have to leave the ues and what we think of as manhattan, i'll be heading to the top of the island, rather than to brooklyn or queens. whether you call it "hudson heights" or think that's just a gentrified renaming (like "clinton" for hell's kitchen, or "chestnut ridge junior high school" for spring valley jhs, where spring valley's the ghetto of the county), it's gorgeous. of course it helped that it was a beautiful day, but still, lovely place in its own right. weather notwithstanding, heading up to those parts makes me think of the new yorker cover that lives on our fridge:

that'll be me. i'll like it. eskimos make the neighborhood really diverse.

the highlight of the afternoon had to be the cloisters (including in that, non-sensically, ft. tryon park). shame shame shame on me for not getting up there sooner. as we walked through the park on our way to the cloisters, it was all babies and dogs (with their grownups & owners), and we stopped on a lawn to listen to a string quartet play a few movements of something scandanavian. (random string quartet on the lawn. gotta love it.) and then the museum is just wonderful. by the end of any trip in europe (god, how posh i sound) i'm always sick of medieval art, but i really do love it. and if you like medieval art, and aren't in europe, the cloisters is the place to go. i always love the early medieval sculpture, and they have some stained glass that is just amazing. but forget the art - what really got me was the herb garden.

yup, going to a museum for the plants. but it was really fantastic - they have, far as i can tell, a recreated monks' garden, with herbs, food plants, medicinals, magical plants. (i refrained from busting out my clan of the cave bear knowledge of medicinal herbs - comfrey, that's good for wounds and fevers. and oh, foxglove, you know you can make a tea from that for heart troubles, and the root has intense psychotropic properties.) i don't know why it was so wonderful, but just walking plot to plot, reading the labels, smelling the herbs - it added up to one of the best afternoons i've had in a while. i know it's not all from whatever horticultural impulses i inherited from my mom & grandfather, but also from getting to really be outside. sure, i'm outside plenty - waiting for the bus, walking to work, wandering around the city - but up in the park, at the cloisters, with this fantastic breeze coming in from the river, all the trees and not a car in sight, it was a completely different thing. i'm loathe to chalk up the distinction to nature - as in being in it, surrounded by it. it really just felt like more outside than outside.

across the hudson i think i could make out hook mountain, more of a jutting piece of parkland than an actual mountain, where we used to take walks when i was growing up. there was something about the park and the trees (maybe the suggestion of rockland county past new jersey across the river, all of it trees as far as we could see) that made it feel like a place i'd have gone when i was younger. which is bizarre - am i only allowed city parks now, where you can see the buildings above the trees? is that kind of outdoors so rare in my life that i associate it with my childhood? definitely something to be fixed.

jeremy had a camera. this is quince:

and this is the river. hello, river.


Pioneer Woman said...

That last photo takes my breath away. Beeeeeeeautiful!

Jeremy said...

You totally should've shared with me your herb-erific knowledge. I would've been molto impressed, never having read the Clan of the Cave Bear. (Although I remember it sitting on my family's bookshelf, and later hearing about how it has some steamy scenes ...)