Had a great time! I flew in on a Friday and spent the afternoon with one of my daughters and Charlie. We took a walk along the West side of Manhattan towards Downtown and back. It was so beautiful. New York has lovely parks and tries to create green areas for its residents. Big cities are not my cup of tea but I confess a certain fondness and deep respect for the gritty Big Apple.
Martin, the Granddog:Storm King, a large park with outdoor sculptures that was soul soothing and peaceful. I don't do well to be away from grass and sky for any length of time and this outing was a sheer delight:
People who aren't from the area see New York City as all tall buildings but it has gorgeous countryside a stone's throw away.
I especially loved the rock wall that meandered around the park at Storm King:
As I oohed and ahhed over the flowers and hills and trees, I think it hit me for the first time that not everyone is hard wired to have such a visceral reaction to Nature. I mean, I know that plenty of people are less moved by bugs and blossoms than others but I always thought it was more a matter of degree or preference. After seeing my daughter's eyes glaze over at my enthusiastic comments and observations, it finally dawned on me that she simply wasn't experiencing the same things I was. Huh. Who knew??? (probably everybody but me :) ).
I think back to the days before I began quilting and think it is like that. I'd see a piece of fabric and would think, "blue material," or "cute dress." At a certain point, as my brain opened up to it, my depth of response deepened and that "blue material" triggered a completely different response. I would see so many details that I would really see it for what it is - the many colors involved to make up the main focus; the weight of the fabric; the types of stitches; textures, blah, blah, blah. Before, my brain registered the barest bit of information needed to identify it. Over time, not only did I recognize "blue material," I began to experience pure pleasure as my brain lit up to process different kinds of information.
Same with nature, I suppose. When I was younger, even though I have always loved the outdoors, I would look at something and think, "tree," or perhaps, "pretty tree." For many people, that's it. Identify it and move on. Maybe it is the result of growing up roaming the countryside or just being inclined that way but I no longer just see "tree." I see: Narrow trunk with dark, deep bark where insects hide out. Oak shaped leaves that look a little distressed near the top so it is probably late summer. The grass beneath the tree is lush so the roots are probably deep. I wonder when a given tree - if deciduous - will start to drop its leaves and how that will affect the wildlife currently depending on it in its present stage. I notice the dirt and if it is reddish or black, foamy or clay based. You get the picture.
I'm not saying I am Mother Nature or anything like that but being out in the country deluges my brain with all types of sensory information that - I dunno - perhaps just releases endorphins or something to make me happy. It might explain why I love the Prairie - it is simply teeming with life, close up where you can see it and think about it. That makes me happy but it isn't for everyone.
For that matter, I find as I get older, my brain is changing to where I spend much more time thinking about most things at a deeper level than I did when I was younger and so busy. By that, I simply mean that I think more in terms of, "how does this work?" or "how is this tree differ from that tree?" rather than like in my earlier years where I mainly used the part of my brain that identified objects or concepts that were in my environment or useful to me. I asked plenty of "why" questions when I was younger, don't get me wrong - but anymore, it feels less like an alien gathering information to make sense of my surroundings, and more like stepping into a tree or a bug or a flower and pondering what it is like to experience life from that perspective. If that makes any sense. I suppose it is just a feeling of being connected to nature beyond a fleeting sense of "Oh, that's pretty," or limited to the extent I need to survive or what is otherwise useful.
Perhaps in my next life I will come back as a bug and this is just preparation. :)
I got home early Tuesday morning. I was supposed to get back Monday night but weather wrecked havoc at the airport. For several hours, there was standing room only. I noticed an elderly, troll like old battle ax with tight narrow lips and helmet hair sitting in a prime seat. She was adjacent to three empty seats that had a wheelchair and cane in front of them. After observing for about thirty minutes that no one was sitting in them, I walked over and asked her if all the seats were taken.
"YES," she snapped, with a voice like a whip.
A real sweet personality, let me tell ya.
I didn't argue.
Selfish Old Goat.
I continued to watch and after a bit, a large, happy faced woman in a canary yellow outfit started coming over to see her every few minutes, cheerfully trying to make conversation while the old woman just glowered at her. After about an hour of standing there, it was abundantly clear that no one was sitting in those seats so being a bit contrary, I walked over and stood in front of them, two seats down from the old geezette with my back to her. I was thinking that the rude and uncivilized young people we see in the flash mobs have NOTHING on her. Eventually, I just gave up and sat down on the floor - in front of the wheelchair.
The old woman was waiting on a flight to Louisville and people started lining up to board. The Canary Lady came back and I started to scramble to my feet to get out of her way, apologizing for being in front of the wheelchair.
"Oh no, no," sez the lemon. "First come, first serve - why don't you sit down in the seat. I am so sorry we blocked you."
The battle Ax looked properly embarrassed but I didn't say anything. Part of it was good manners and part of it was that she was kind of scary looking.
I sat down in the chair right next to her. It was sort of like being sent to the Principal's office while you're still feeling defiant.
At that point, her flight was delayed by weather so there we sat for the next couple of hours, side by side.
The yellow lady darted by from time to time making cheery conversation. When she'd leave, the old woman tended to roll her eyes at her behind her back. At one point, she gave a long sigh and I glanced over at her. She looked so weary - and how could she not be? She had to be 85 if she was a day and airports are hard on anyone.
"Going home?" I asked her.
Then the old woman raised her head and looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and said, bitterly, "I'm going back to an Assisted Living Center." Then she looked away but not before I saw angry eyes fill with tears.
"Awww," sez I.
After a moment I asked, gently, "Are you from New York?"
Another long pause.
"Sixty years," she finally answered, just as gently. Then she turned to look at me. "I raised my family here - four children. Well, actually, with the costs of private schools, we moved to the suburbs for a lot of it. But sixty years. And I loved every second of it. I miss it so much..."
And then she told me that none of her children stayed in New York. I could see she was sad about that and even though I didn't mention it, I understood since my own kids also left home. I remarked that usually children who do that are successful adults and she agreed. One child is in Washington State, another in Florida, a third in new Jersey and, of course, a daughter in Louisville near her Assisted Living Center.
We chatted for a bit and she explained that she'd come to visit relatives and the lady in yellow was her paid companion. We talked about air travel, and things she'd done when she was young, and the weather and raising kids. I could see she was very weary so I backed out of the conversation when I could to let her rest. Eventually, she boarded the plane but after about thirty minutes, they took everyone off due to more delays. She sat in her wheelchair next to me looking so old, tired and sad. Maybe a little mean.
I imagine I didn't see her at her best and hope she isn't always like this. Still, she became part of my memory of a lovely trip and I'm glad I got a chance to talk to her. More importantly, I appreciated her sharing her passion for NYC - it made me think of how much my daughter loves it. Even though I miss my girl, isn't it a lovely thing that she can live where her heart is?
Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl