Monthly Archives: April 2014

Is It Spring Yet?

After whining and complaining all winter long, I thought a spring-related blog might be appropriate. Of course, it’s not spring yet here. It’s difficult to get my head around the fact that it’s May 1st this week since the annual closet switch hasn’t happened yet. Still wearing winter clothes and still need a jacket to go on walks with the dog. Of course, I did put away the ice walkers, hats and gloves. There was a couple of days a week or so back when the doors and windows were opened and today I’ve turned off the heat and left the door open for Sydney to go in and out if she wants to bask in the sun on the deck. So it is not hopeless.

Last year, the people at the local nursery told me that “we don’t plant here before Mother’s Day,” and now I believe it. Last year I planted well before May but that was different. There are a few buds on the trees and, driving into Brooklyn last week just a little south and east there are trees in full bloom and cherry blossoms in Brooklyn and Manhattan. There is some greening in the yard and somehow flies and other flying things seem to have appeared the minute the snow melted. There are several birds making a nest in the eaves beside the screened in porch. Chickadees I think. Rachel and I saw an amazing pair of hawks flying together close to the house. I’m guessing that they had a wingspan of 5-6 feet. I heard there’s an eagle’s nest at Lake McConnell which is in the community. So there are indications that there may be a spring in the our future. My guess is next week and I am determined to buy some herbs and flowering plants to spruce things up. When Michael visited, we brought up all the planters and plant-related items — so much easier with two people — and he carried up two large bags of potting soil.

I am more than ready for warmer days — not as warm as Tallahassee of course — typically in the 60s during the day and 40s at night which will be lovely. Seeing deer is a more common occurrence and there’s lots of other wildlife — chipmunks, hedgehogs — no skunks yet and no bear sightings. I am hopeful that spring will also be a mood-improver. After so many years of making things happen, I am now waiting for things to happen. You might think that this is (1) easy to remedy and (2) not a bad thing. “Get out and do something,” you may be thinking. Easier said than done I’m afraid. And, waiting for things to happen isn’t so bad, it just takes getting used to. I have started my nature/weather journal and find that thinking about what to write is a good mental exercise. Going to Brooklyn once a week to be grandma to Riley and company for Rachel is something I look forward to very much. Not to mention that Whole Foods Brooklyn has a HUGE parking lot and is a convenient stopping place before driving home.

Spring is coming very soon and with it new things to think about, blog about, write about, and explore. This was one long winter!

A Tale of Two Diners

After a weekend of enjoying Michael’s company and working hard to get the house ready for spring, I drove into the city on Sunday. (I must point out here that, once all the planters were out, the grill brought up on the deck, the porch semi-organized, and the fireplace cleaned out and wood put away, we got about 2 inches of snow! Jay, from Homer’s Construction, blamed me for the snow having jinxed the weather by taking planters out of the shed!)
photo 1-1 photo 2-1

Back to the diners. On Monday morning early I drove to Brooklyn to spend the day with Rachel and Riley, found parking and got a text from Dave to meet them at “their diner.” I went to the 5th Avenue Diner in Park Slope, had a cup of coffee while I waited, and watched as regulars came in to the much smaller space than “my diner.” I found it interesting and revealing that we so quickly take ownership of a diner moreso than a restaurant — Rachel and I do not consider DuJour “our coffee shop” even though we go there frequently. I reflected on the personal nature of diners. The waitress at 5th Avenue Diner was friendly, knew all the orders for her regulars, and kept my coffee cup filled. Never once did I feel like she was concerned with how long I sat there. Once Dave, Rachel and Riley arrived, she was accommodating of the stroller, interacted with Riley, and made us feel very comfortable. I can see why Dave considers this a place worthy of being labeled “our diner.”

This morning I went into Milford to my diner — The Milford Diner. I was greeted by name by the waitress, Carol, who knows all the local gossip, who’s doing what for Easter weekend, and any other information that she comes across by visiting all the tables. Then one of the owners came out from the back and also said “Hello, Pat, how’s everything?” Carol assured me that Judy, who usually sits in the first booth, would stop by and visit in a little while. I had my breakfast, Freddy kept my coffee cup filled, and I thought how much like the other diner this was. Diner food has always been one of my favorites — when I was in high school, somehow on Friday nights, many of us ended up at the Plainview Diner (or Sandy’s but that’s another story). No cell phones, texts, emails, or IMs and miraculously we all ended up at the diner late-ish (not too late) on a Friday night. I suppose it’s a matter of comfort; where one feels free to talk, laugh, take one’s time, and no one judges.

I have a theory that diner waitresses are different from restaurant waitresses. Diner patrons are different from restaurant patrons. There’s an atmosphere in a diner that caters to regulars, tourists, kids on a day off from school, and occasional truckers and others passing through. I guess that’s why so many of us like them. Diner menus are definitely interesting, too. I wonder how they can offer pages and pages of options but that requires a lot more research and reflection. If you are traveling soon, or are in a small town, go to the diner — make sure you talk to your waitress!

Quiet is Relative

During my visit to Tallahassee, I was conscious of familiar sounds at night. One that I always loved was the sound of the train, particularly on foggy nights when the sound carried quite a distance. I remembered lying in bed on Walton Drive listening to the sound but only now and then. This time, being a bit closer, in the midtown area, I heard it each night and savored the sound. I always thought of Tallahassee as quiet but there were street noises, the occasional siren, barking dogs, sometimes voices of walkers outside the window. It was not as quiet as I remembered! When I returned home to the mountains, I was struck by the absolute quiet and darkness. Having gotten used to it, I didn’t realize how quiet it really is in winter at least. Not a sound. No dogs barking (too cold out), no cars going down the street, no voices, only the sounds of the house. Snow falling off the roof, the wind howling through the bare trees, the Shohola bell making its beautiful sound when the wind catches it, these are what I hear at night in winter.

To add to my analysis of sounds and places, when I went into Manhattan and stayed at Michael and Allison’s apartment, I was struck by the light from the street, the street noises that seemed to go on all night long, and the diversity of noises — sirens, cars, people, noises from another apartment or the hallway. On the far end of the spectrum, however, is the amazing combination of noises and lights when I am in Rachel’s Brooklyn apartment. Just off a major avenue that runs through Brooklyn, there is constant light and noise. Trucks making middle of the night deliveries, sirens from the ambulances that use Seventh Street as a route to the hospital, people yelling at one another or just talking as they walk home late at night, and the variety of city noises that I am not used to. If you live in a big city, you quickly get used to the noises and find ways to deal with the light. I obviously have quickly become used to absolute darkness except for the moon and complete quiet. You are probably thinking at this point that I have much too much time on my hands to have given this all so much thought. For me, however, it’s a way of reconciling differences between where I have lived and where I live now. It’s almost two years since I moved here and I am still adjusting. The realization of that alone has been interesting for me so I find ways to think about where people live, what they become used to, and how the little things affect our sense of place. Take a listen to your surroundings when you have time.