Week 2: Wednesday 19th to Tuesday 25th April

I awoke determined to visit one of my favourite places – Governor’s Island, just 800 yards from the tip of Manhattan.

The island is now open all year round but is just waking up before summer, so no eateries or coffee shops are open during the week until the beginning of June, apart from an unfriendly taco place just near Soissons Landing from where the ferry departs.

I walked the circumferences of the island, visiting the lavender field that is yet to produce flowers as well as a couple of art installations.

One is ‘The field station of the melancholy marine biologist’ and ‘Moving Chains’ – a mon­u­men­tal 110-foot long kinet­ic sculp­ture built from steel and sus­tain­ably-har­vest­ed sapele wood.

At the ferry terminal on Manhattan is the amusing “Not for Nutten” with reference to the tradition of putting ships in bottles.

I also decided to have a rest in “hammock grove’ with its many comfortable hammocks…

On the way back, I took the M25 bus on the whole length of its journey from South Ferry to the Lincoln Centre, winding its way through The Battery, Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Midtown.

This took me directly to The Julliard where I watched a viola player with an annoying habit of sniffing very loudly every time he made an effort. Why his teachers hadn’t helped him drop the habit I have no idea. Apart from that the music was beautiful, as usual – Reger, Ligeti, Martinu and Brahms.

Thursday being a lovely sunny day, Debbie and I went to Central Park, first for a coffee in the not very well known ‘Tavern to Go’ – a reasonably-priced coffee place belonging to and just behind the Tavern on the Green which, conversely, is an extremely expensive place!

We walked slowly with Ellie-dog past the spontaneous musical performances in the park and then though ‘The Ramble’ which has a lovely forest-like atmosphere.

Sitting awhile, Debbie pointed out the birds singing around us. Being totally blind, from a very young age she learnt the names of all the birds she could hear.

Before going to the Julliard to listen to a really talented 24-year-old bassist (Zachary George Marzulli playing Hindemith, Bynes, Scriabin, Martin, Andres Martin and Edgar Meyer), we popped into the American Folk Museum where I described sone of the beautiful quilts hanging on the walls.

Dropping Debbie back home at 116th and Broadway and eating the pasta dish I had cooked beforehand, I then returned to the Julliard (66th and Broadway) for an exceptional – and extremely long! – performance of baroque violin.

Carmen Lavada Johnson-Pavarotti for whom this was a performance for her Masters of Music, was openly grieving the loss of her father and so the raw and touching music (Marino, Monteverdi, Purcell, Biber, Vitali, Merula, Rossi, Falconieri, Bach, Purcell, Marais, Gow and finally a traditional tune arranged by herself) was accompanied by photographs and poems connected to grief. This, of course, touched me deeply and I sat their weeping for the loss of Alfie.

On Friday I took the 60 bus to the Metro North station at 125th Street in Harlem for the 33 minute journey to Rye where my lovely friend Natalie lives. I enjoyed sitting immediately behind the driver (who kept the door between his cabin and the train open), looking down the tracks as we made our way north-east out of Manhattan.

Natalie has a lovely large typical clapboard American house with several resident chickens so fresh eggs are definitely on the menu for breakfast.

Upon arrival I walked her 2 little rescue dogs – Doc (at least 14) and young Max around the block and then walked to the seaside at Rye – beautiful but cold and windy.

As I saw he dogs playing on the beach (allowed only until 23 April…) I thought of when Alfie had been there while visiting Natalie and her lovely elderly dog Charlie (who passed away last year) and again felt sadness.

When I got back after what was a long walk, Natalie ordered in Italian food – the huge pizza was delicious and after half-watching some dire US TV we had an early night.

I awoke on Saturday finishing a dream about Alfie, where I had lost him while I was talking to people and then finally discovered him, panting and hot in the woods at Blaise, picked him up and put him in his stroller. I was so relieved to have found him – it was the first dream of him that I have had since he passed away.

It was great to have fresh eggs from the chickens after I did a session of “Yoga with Adrienne” online. Natalie and I then took the little dogs around Rye. It is such a pretty place.

Later on I took myself to the Rye Nature Reserve and said hello to a few white-tailed deer.

As Natalie has access to every channel available, before bed I watched “Ticket to Paradise” (Julia Roberts/George Clooney) followed by “Mrs Harris goes to Paris” (Lesley Mansell) – 2 easy, light-hearted feel-good movies that I need right now because my grief over Alfie’s death is with me 24/7.

I even question what I am doing in New York when I yearn to be back in my house – with Alfie. That isn’t possible and so, recognising that I must move forward, I am taking it a day at a time. Although his Bardo finished on 18 April (49 days) I continue lighting a candle and doing the practice every night to feel closer to him.

There was heavy rain overnight. After doing yoga, the rain had stopped, so I took Doc and Max for a quick walk then enjoyed a bagel and fresh eggs breakfast. Natalie and I then went to the Rye Marshlands Conservancy for a long walk around the swamp and islands, seeing wild turkeys, birds of prey and deer.

It is a beautiful place still bearing signs of the damage done by Hurricane Sandy – with many fallen tall trees. On the small island we saw some rare wild flowers and an Amalanchier tree (that I have in my garden in Bristol).

The 4.50 train from Harrison took 33 minutes to get to Harlem station at 125th street and the 60 bus arrived in no time to drop me at 116th street & Broadway.

At 8.30 I whizzed off to Julliard to watch enchanting Chamber Music that didn’t finish until 11 p.m. It was a long programme with many performers and instruments, playing  several modern composers, including John Cage, followed by Faure, Beranek, Dvorak, Saint-Sean’s and Mozart.

Monday evening Genia and I went to “First Floor walk up presents” down in the village to watch some absolutely off-the-wall readings of poetry and prose at “P&T knitwear Books and Cafe”

This was followed by a visit to Katz’s delicatessen (established in 1888), famous for its pastrami sandwiches, then we went next door for a delicious ice cream.

In the evenings, after any concert I might have attended, I go for long walks with Genia around Riverside Park and Broadway, just like I used to do with Alfie.

He knew how to drag me to the pet shop on Broadway where he would enjoy tormenting the cat and trying to nibble his bum. I checked it out: the cat is still there – so poignant…

Speak Your Mind