Syndactyl Salutations

Thoughts on writing, knitting, and the world around me.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

My Most Recent Slice of the Big Apple: Part Two

Now, the continuing story of...


Day two was considerably less active due to blisters on my feet and sore muscles all around. We stayed in Brooklyn all day, though still covered a fair amount of ground. Our first stop out of the apartment was at a dollar store for blister coverings and candy. The car was parked outside of the Uprising Bakery, which I found fairly amusing. Once we had that little errand out of the way, we headed for Sheep's Head Bay and Manhattan Beach. We looked at the marina for a little while, though most of the boats were out of their slips, either for the day or the season. I enjoy ocean air much more than one would realize if one was to judge by the infrequency of my visits to places with ocean access.

After staring at the bay for a little while, we walked (somewhat gingerly in my case) the few blocks to see the colony of green parrots which live between the bay and the beach. Yes, you read that correctly, green parrots living in the wild in Brooklyn. We could hear them calling before we got to where they gather and nest, it was really cool. We saw a couple of them flitting overhead as we got there, though we saw their nests first. They build large, multi-entrance nests out of twigs, she was calling them parrot condos. There was one built around a transformer on a utility pole and one in a nearby tree. The group on the pole will probably have to rebuild soon, though, because apparently the streets department comes along periodically and clears the poles off.

We passed under the parrot colony and walked down to Manhattan Beach. Manhattan Beach has a rim of shallow steps which lead down to the sand; they were mostly buried as a result of Ivan (and probably Charley and Bonnie).It was fairly warm out and overcast, but not exactly hot, yet there were people wading and swimming in the surf anyway. The high tide line was full of small trash, which did sort of take away from the idyllic beach-going experience. We wandered down close to the waterline and looked at washed up jellyfish and horseshoe crabs. I took some photos of them, they were interesting, though photographing dead things was sort of creepy.

There was a photo shoot going on while we were there, but we were hard-pressed to figure out what the shoot was for. There was a woman on her knees in a long dress with a hood being directed to yell exhortations at the sky, but there was also a woman standing around nearby in a bikini. Sort of strange and cheesy all at once.

On the way back to the car, we passed the parrot colony again. They were even more active than they had been before, so we stopped and watched some more. I took a fair number of photos, which I hope come out. The birds were flying back and forth over our heads, working between three or four trees, carrying twigs to incorporate into the nest in the tree. We saw six or seven of them this time and they were carrying on like mad. The neighbors apparently feed them during the winter, part of why they stick around, but it's sort of surprising because with all of the noise they make, I can't see being thrilled to live right next to them all year round. The noise is probably something you'd get used to, actually.

After Manhattan Beach, she drove us out to Brighton Beach. It was Yom Kippur, and Brighton Beach is primarily Jewish, so a lot of the storefronts were shuttered. It's also a largely Russian area, so it was interesting to see so many businesses with signage in both English and Russian. We weren't there to shop anyway, so the closed stores weren't a deal. She found a space in the municipal lot, then we cut across the rapidly filling boardwalk to the sand. As I mentioned, it was Yom Kippur, and we appeared to have gotten there just as services were letting out.

Brighton Beach is a lot more well-groomed than Manhattan Beach. It is also larger and used more frequently and larger. Most of the detritus at the high tide line was vegetative matter, rather than trash, which was heartening. There were still a large number of jellyfish washed up, but no horseshoe crabs. We walked down to the water briefly again, then found a board to sit on just inside the high tide line. The sun had come out and it was warming up a bit more, so there were more people on the beach. A dog was chasing a stick longer than he was into the waves, a toddler was digging a hole in the sand near where the waves were breaking. His mom was walking on her hands nearby.

We sat and looked at the water and played in the sand in front of us. I was digging holes and making spirals, my sister was making mini sand sculptures -- an elephant head and a turtle. She is much more instantaneously creative than I am. I took a few photos of the horizon, Coney Island, her working on her sculptures.

We didn't walk down the boardwalk to Coney Island when we left because the boardwalk was just too crowded and she had a headache. On the way back to the apartment, we went to a strip of land between the highway and the water that she called the hideaway. It had been really overgrown with weeds and brush when her husband first discovered it and took her there. We got to it via a pedestrian bridge across the highway with extremely shallow, wide, steps. The kind of steps that end up making you take each step with the same foot so that you feel lopsided unless you do a silly shuffle from time to time. We walked to an entrance closer to the water than the one by the bridge so that I could see the main attraction of the place. There are several burned out barge hulls along the shore. Apparently the barges were burnt and sunk at one point, then the water level changed and they stayed where they were.

She was hoping to get me down to the edge of the water and close to the wrecks, but we couldn't find a path, so I took several shots of them from above. When we first spotted the barges, we also saw a heron standing in the middle of the water between two of them. I didn't take his picture though. We walked around the perimeter of the park on a path and passed a lot of people out fishing and some hawks that seemed to be having a territorial dispute. There were a couple of guys flying remote control helicopters, which were mirrored by all of the dragonflies we saw closer to the ground.

The hideaway was the end of our explorations until evening because her headache hadn't gone away. We went back to the apartment so that she could take a nap and I could work on my sock. We took one more walk in the evening with her husband. We walked through a botanical garden (Verrazano Narrows?) then along a length of the promenade which runs along the water. The sun was setting over lower Manhattan and I didn't bring my camera with me, but I just enjoyed it for what it was, so it was fine. We left the promenade and walked to the shopping area near where they lived to get stuff for dinner. It was so alien to be in a "downtown" area at 8:00 or later and see stores open and bustling. Granted, they were getting ready to close, but still. We went to a little grocery for basic groceries, a produce stand for veggies, and a delectable little bakery for a fresh loaf of Italian bread. As fond as I am of the convenience of supermarkets, I liked the intimacy of going into each small neighborhood shop to get part of dinner. Especially the bakery, I'd love to have a neighborhood bakery where I could get fresh bread every few days. Supermarket bakeries just aren't the same, really.

Our evening wrapped up with a lovely dinner once again, then sock knitting for hours after they went to bed. I turned my first sock heel that night and was absolutely thrilled.

Thanks again if you've made it this far. I should get the last part up fairly soon. Now I'm off to watch the Vice-Presidential debate.


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