Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Brooklyn Sojourn

Monica and I have both been under-employed and money, as they say, has been tight.  But life has to be lived and so last Friday we headed into New York on the train.  Nico mostly idled the trip away on a little game player, Monica dozed and thumbed through National Geographic.  I read through Scientific American and stared out the window as autumnal, coastal Connecticut clicked and rattled by.

At 6 on a Friday evening Grand Central Station was an anthill that'd been poked with a stick, and the subway was over-heated and dense with commuters.  Nico wilted and went pale.

But in Brooklyn old friends waited, and our Poet, Denver, was preparing dinner -- soft red beans and noodles upon kale. And the Actress, Rhonda who's been swallowed by the PTA, together with the Girl, who's eight, set the table while we chatted, and made room for fresh bread torn into chunks and a platter of tomatoes, herbs and fresh mozzarella.  When the beans were ready we gathered at the table, made the Girl and Nico put down their books, and we ate.  And when it was down to crumbs and we refilled our wine and ale and water we told jokes and riddles and funny stories - on and on. Nico was on a roll,

from the idiotic . . .
Knock, knock
Who's th-
Mooo!  Interrupting Cow! 
to the cruel . . .
Where do you find a dog with no legs?
Right where you left it.
to the obscure . . . 
What does the 'B' in Benoit B. Mandlebrot stand for?
Benoit B. Mandlebrot.
It's one of the things people did before the entertainment industry colonized the home, and it felt good to laugh and strain our brains.  But eventually we'd exhausted our collective supply of jokes and riddles and so the Girl and Nico returned to their books.   (Occasionally, I would hear them quietly harmonizing some pop song together, each of them with their nose in their book.)  The rest of us talked into the night of family and politics and art and people and ideas.  And I switched from ale to water and eventually to sleep.

I woke early, but Denver had woken even earlier and fetched bread.  There was steel-cut oatmeal on the stove and smooth, black coffee.  After breakfast, he and Monica and I walked the two miles from Carroll Gardens to Prospect Park - along the streets of brownstones, and across the opalescent green scar of the Gowanus Canal by the South Brooklyn Casket factory.  The Park Slope brownstones were decorated for Halloween and little children in helmets rode on zippy three-wheeled scooters.  At the farmer's market he talked with his favorite farmers and bought duck eggs, obscure radishes, greens and apples.  We carried chocolate croissants home.

Later, I was in the park with Nico and the Girl.  A troop of brown-skinned boys ranging from about 8 to 13 were doing parkour on a boulder and the remains of a fallen tree - standing back flips, runs and twisting jumps.  They were free-range (no parents), charismatic and two were richly foul-mouthed.  The Girl and Nico sat rapt, partly in admiration of the skill and partly in fear that they were going to see someone die or break a bone.

More of our visit below the fold . . . .