New York City, NY
Another factoid gleaned from the lyrics of a They Might Be Giants song is that “Old New York was once New Amsterdam” and I can see why now that spring has sprung and there are tulips as far as the eye can see in every direction. By the same token, it may also have been called New Tokyo for the proliferation of Cherry Blossoms. I’m not usually one to visit the botanical gardens of the world but Maura and all the neighbours I’ve met so far seemed pretty insistent that I go.
Just walking the streets of Park Slope en route to the gardens was an exhilarating experience that got exponentially more glorious as I reached and crossed Prospect Park through to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. There I saw a site that is an absolute joy to any budget traveller: ‘Tuesdays admission free’. I walked through the wide open gate to be greeted by a whole garden bed full of Naomi Flowers – this is their correct botanical name – get out your flora and fauna books, look up ‘snowdrops’ and make the appropriate correction! While you’re at it, you might want to correct the rest of the misinformation that is often associated with these flowers – the truth is that they were discovered in a park in Kingswood, NSW, Australia on my 4th birthday and although global warming has messed with the seasons, it’s still safe to assume that when you see the first Naomi Flower of the year, it’s time to buy me a present. Any questions, ask my mum!
From there I meandered my way past endless tulips to the main attraction – the Cherry Esplanade – an enchanted avenue of Cherry Blossoms in full bloom gently showing down pink petals on those of us lucky enough to be trapped in their spell. I laid down on the delicate pink petal carpet and just soaked up the gentle dappled light softly shining through. Under the boughs of these magnificent trees, everyone seemed soothed, quiet, calm, at peace. I just lay there for a hour and had my fill.
Brooklyn was clearly wooing me and I was so smitten that I decided to spend the rest of the day within its boundaries. I headed to the main hub to complete some unfinished business from yesterday – more shopping! My staple store for clothing in Manhattan had really let me down by being out of stock of everything but they assured me that their main branch would have all I wanted and more and was located in, you guessed it, Brooklyn! Not only was I able to restock essential items but everything was 40% off which led me to stockpile a few non-essential items – my first little black dress, well, not so little but it is a black dress and another, even cuter swimsuit! Clearly, Brooklyn was now putting the ************ me and I needed to know how serious it was so I decided to take it to its limits…
The Brooklyn Bridge! I walked all the way across to Manhattan which tried to win me back by flashing a few squirrels at me but I knew where my heart belonged today so headed straight back across just in time to get back to my pied a terre, get changed and head to the Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX) for some hoop action!
A brief word on my hula hooping for the uninitiated. As part of my recent life changes, I took up hula hoop classes at the gym in an attempt to prove that I wasn’t an old dog by virtue of the fact that I could learn new tricks. It’s fair to say I wasn’t a natural but what I lacked in technique, I made up for in dogged determination! What took most people 4 minutes to pick up, took me 4 weeks but I got there and pretty soon that hoop became my ring of confidence. Shortly before leaving on this adventure, I did a 2 hour workshop with the simply beguiling Bunny Hoop Star who makes her own hoops and made me my very own travel hoop which folds down to half it’s size to fit neatly into a backpack.
On my first jaunt around the ‘hood the other day, I’d picked up a flyer about hoop classes at BAX so signed up immediately for tonight. I had decided to leave by hoop behind and use the ones provided and I’m glad I did. Those of you who have seen my hoop know she’s a bit of a beast but compared to these monsters, she’s barely a bangle! Like so many things in the USA, it was like real life but at 125%. I learned a few new tricks and walked home with a smile on my face knowing that what Brooklyn and I had shared today was starting to blossom into something beautiful.