we went, because it’s fun and important and I had never been.
It was very nice, because we got to do normal tourist things like:
go to the met & the museum of natural history, and eat Nice Dinner Out, and gawp at everything (me), and walk around central park, and public-bathroom hunt
but also do odder (“local?”) things like:
visit brighton beach (“little odessa”), and stay out (at the latest!) until 9pm, and go grocery-shopping, and walk amazing distances, and become regulars at Lot’s-O-Bagels.
We took only this one picture, at the met, of this samurai rabbit-helmet:
but, this is a picture of unpacking my bag in a library carrel that provides some more information:
1) the beginnings of this sweater, begun yesterday over coffee & worked up to the first white stripe.
2) one of two socks I knit for Christine (“make me a pair of grey cabled socks, please?”), pattern forthcoming & intended for this contest.
3) Elle (bought for the sake of Kiera Knightley), for reading in the airport (our flight left at 8:30; we had to leave the house at 2pm– no leaving the keys in the mailbox in that city!)
4) receipt from Uncle George’s, a greek restaurant in our neighborhood in Astoria
5) pile of latin, for monday’s paper.
6) natural history museum brochure & ticket
7) napkin & receipt from Cafe Sabarsky– which merits further discussion.
Once, I was in Austria, outside of Vienna, in the summer, and very thirsty– and going along, I kept seeing hand-carved wooden signs for“Hütte Familie [can't remember], [x] km.”
One of them also advertised Holunderblütensaft– I didn’t know what it was, exactly, just Holunder-blossom-juice. Maybe I was–and am– making a bigger deal out of this than I should have, but, still:
“this is juice that is made from a flower, and you get to drink it, just on the side of the road like it is not even a big deal.”
I thought, “Austria is a fairytale.”
And so, I stopped, and had some. It was wonderful & homemade & perfect, and I have been searching for it ever since. Not, you know, at the expense of all else, like a king in the Arabian Nights, and not even enough to want to buy it from the internet, but the right kind of Holunder (that is to say, Elder) doesn’t grow in North America, and I wanted the real thing, and so, sort of gave up, but not really*.
Which is why, when we were in Brighton Beach at the Russian grocery stores, I realized that, This is New York, and you can buy anything here, which is maybe not true, but almost. The German grocery store, said the internet, was up in the Bronx, but there was a Cafe in Manhattan that sold Holunderblütensaft.
And so, we went– the door was so intimidating, I was afraid to go in, and then the doorman stepped out of the shadows to search my things and point us to the cafe, but inside, it was all old-style Viennese– ornate brass latches (I am so interested in latches), scandinavian-looking art students, German-speaking waiters, rich wives having birthday brunch, everything deathly expensive (but at least not in Euros?).
The Holunderblütensaft was excellent as expected, as was the quark** cheesecake we ordered with it.
We took as long as possible– and thenwith wand’ring steps and slow through Central Park took our tiny-dog-beset way.
*I sort of feel like this is the same thing as some European pining away for Cheerwine– or some other, seemingly quotidian, local favorite.
** another German staple that I try and hunt for when I have the energy / find myself in a specialty grocery store.