Saturday, October 24, 2009

Farting Dogs

The other day I was riding on the A line heading toward 42nd St. As the train pulled away from Columbus Circle a thin man dressed in unwashed blue jeans and a black bomber jacket entered the car from the connecting door between subway cars. He held up batteries, four silvery ones a pack. In a monotone he belted, "Batteries for sale. Cheap. One dollar each. Batteries for sale. Buy your batteries here. Cheap. Batteries. For. Sale." Noses stayed pressed into papers, no one looked up. The man walked to the other end of the car. As it pulled into 42nd St., he yelled in a fact-crossed mimic of the subway conductor, "42nd St. Change for the B, D, F, shuttle to Grand Central. 42nd St. Last chance to change. Change. Here. For the B, D, F, shuttle to Grand Central." Then, as if bored with the usual routine, announced, "Change here folks. If you're not changing to the D or F you're in the doggone WRONG TRAIN. Change here for the F as in FARTING, D as in DOG trains." The door opened. Amid hidden chuckles he exited toward the farting dog trains. It takes a lot to get a New Yorker's attention.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bethesda Fountain

A little while ago, I took my dog for a walk in Central Park. The early fall sky hung low and gray, interrupted by a few rebellious rays of sunlight. Pooch and I descended the stairway leading from Poet's Walk into the shadows of the arcade below Besthesda Terrace. I gazed up, as I always do, to admire the restored ceiling. Bach filled the arcade: an a capella group hummed in wordless harmony at the other end. Pooch and I listened briefly, but were drawn out of the arcade by a spectacle of light near the fountain. The gray day had become unexpectedly brilliant in comparison to the darkness of the arcade. In front of us, a man held two large sticks tied together by rope. He dipped the apparatus into soapy water and in careful slow motion so as not to spoil his work, set to float a ten foot bubble. The sun scattered into a rainbow on the bubble, and the singers' chords of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" accompanied his creation. Overhead, the angel of the Bethesda Fountain, her skirts swirling as if alighting from flight, stretched down her hand in solace to those below. She did not seem to mind the pigeons on her head, her shoulder, her hand. Why should she? This is one of my favorite spots in all of the city, and on that day, with Bach, the bubbles and the late afternoon sun, it felt like Heaven.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The pomegranates in the herb garden at the Cloisters know that Fall has arrived. The fruits hang like bright Christmas orbs on the trees dwarfed by roots confined by terracotta pots. They add brilliance, the promise of their ruby seeds hiding within. I want to break them open and devour them, my teeth gnashing the hard white seeds, the juice staining my mouth, my tongue, my chin in a river of crimson. Like when I was a child and my mother made me wear an old shirt covered by an apron. She made me go outside to eat the pomegranates from our backyard tree, lest I permanently stain the house. To me, Fall means pomegranates bigger than grapefruit sent from my mother's tree in California. To me, Fall means sitting outside on a clear blue evening, the edges of the air just beginning to bite. To me, Fall means eating pomegranates with abandon, worry-free of stains. To me, Fall brings the fruits of my mother's green thumb, which for my entire life has provided pomegranates with seeds sweeter and juicier than any store bought fruit could ever be.