Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dragonfruit and sugarcane

New York: the city of lights, of sounds, of dreams of the future and visions of the past, city of sewers and parks, of Walt Whitman and John Lennon and the Village Voice, of the Port Authority and Occupy Wall Street; the village of the Dutch and city of the world, an archipelago anchored to the mainland by a single poor peninsula but yearning, like the huddled masses called by its fabled statue, to breathe free.

All of that. But this post is about Elmhurst.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

October Chill

I mostly receive expressions of sympathy, and sometimes of alarm, when I tell New Yorkers that I’ve never been through a real winter.

“Oh,” they say, looking me up and down, eyeballing my wardrobe and estimating fat thickness. “Do you have winter clothes?”

“I’ll get some,” I assure them cheerily, not bothering to admit that I am in fact already wearing what I consider my winter clothes – jacket, shoes, and a hat when it really gets nippy. Which it hasn’t, not by New York standards, though my Mississippi-California-Philippines background has established a rather different set of definitions.

So I found myself stumbling through the winter’s first snow two weeks ago, wet and cold from the slushy mess sweeping down Seventh Avenue. I had spent most of the day staring out of the windows of the bookstore, transfixed by this small amount of snow that quickly eclipsed the one significant snowfall of my youth (a sprinkling, but to us Gulf of Mexicans a blizzard). The bookstore was warm and homey, its soft lights inviting, and it felt like nothing so much as a well-kept cottage in some snow-swept northern village.