I was back in New York for less than 24 hours this week.
I was there for the annual reception that the non-profit on whose advisory board I sit has been holding for the past two years to honor community leaders’ work in ending family violence. Before heading home the next day, I wandered around my old haunts and in addition to the weather, about 20° F warmer than in Boston, there were some of the familiar tell-tale signs that Spring is hitting Manhattan.
First, the construction. I’m not talking about the UES falling cranes-type of construction to erect yet another east-of Lex monolith cookie-cutter apartment building that had the Times proclaiming the Fifth Mad Park once tony neighborhood one of the cheapest places to live (ahem…Yorkville anyone?). That, I’ve never had the patience for. But, there is something strangely soothing about the life that “MEN AT WORK” orange signs, on-the-ground, public works construction lends to a city. The idea of renewal. Spring cleaning all around. Paving the roads after a long winter that someone had decided is over.Fixing the potholes. Do you hear that, Boston? I repeat, Manhattan is fixing its potholes!
Then there are the flowers, struggling in their little urban gardens. Granted, I didn’t make it to Central Park where the trees blossom around the reservoir just a few weeks after cherry blossoms grace Washington, DC. But I did spy a few little blooms peeking out from their 2X3-foot cell on the sidewalk near the parked cars.
But, the true sign of Spring for me in Manhattan is when the fruit (and vegetable) guys return.
Adorning (or shall I say staking their claim on) nearly every corner in my neighborhood and across much of Manhattan are fruit vendors. Some sell vegetables, like this guy above, but it’s the fruit that I’m after. Nothing fancy. Not much organic. No farmers’ market here. This is just how I would pick up some fresh fuit almost every day on my way home from work. Everything in the City is about convenience, so sometimes I would take a different train so that I would make sure to pass Rana, my fruit guy on my corner, because once I passed my apartment, I wouldn’t go back out to just grab some fruit. Rana knew I was loyal — I only went to the guy across the street when he was out of something I needed — so, sometimes he’d spot me an avocado or two on Saturdays on my way back from synagogue because he knew I didn’t carry money on the sabbath. I was always sad when Rana and the other fruit guys packed up when the temperature dropped, but like clockwork, they always returned with the sunshine.
One more image that I can’t resist sharing. Two gentlemen in Highland dress (not quite complete or formal, but a version of Highland dress nonetheless) also enjoying the Spring weather.
On the T back in Boston, I saw a man dressed like a yellow cow, or a “cowpie” to be exact, on his way to attend a Bruins (hockey?) game. He wouldn’t let me take his picture. But he wasn’t showing any leg.
Manhattan 1. Boston 0.
But who’s keeping score?