Spent the day Monday with my youngest, his niece—my granddaughter—and her mother, my oldest. They came to visit us here in Jersey (from Massachusetts where they live).
We spent part of the day hanging out in the park near my apartment, the one I sometimes post about taking walks through and digging so much.
We took her to the duck pond that, naturally, was full of ducks as well as water lilies and fish you could see swimming by just under the surface—it’s a shallow pond.
My youngest wanted to show his niece the turtle(s) that live there. No luck spying them. But what we did see, though it took a minute to actually figure out what we were seeing, was a tree full of bright green parrots (officially “parakeets” though they aren’t the tiny birdcage pet kind, they’re Latin American green parrots with a touch of gray and almost the size of the kind of parrot that “wants a cracker” in the movies).
There was a whole family or tribe of them, filling this one tree with their raucous sounds—which I interpreted as almost laughter—as they picked at berries growing from the tree’s branches and blended in so perfectly with the leaves of the tree that it took us a few minutes to make them out.
There was more fun over the more than twenty-four hours we spent together, including a trip to the city to show my granddaughter where her mother lived part of her childhood, on Sullivan Street below Houston in what was becoming back in those days known as “Soho”—but which we residents called “So What” or “So So”—and now is almost unrecognizable.
The church is still there, but the candy store across the street from it is now some Tibetan store. The cheese shop and one of the two butchers are gone, as is the bakery and the Italian deli and the two social clubs, each anchoring separate ends of the street.
Lots of changes. Just like in Washington Square which recently had a remodeling and is much more flowerful and user friendly, especially the little playground where my youngest and one of his oldest Jersey friends entertained my granddaughter with games of hide and seek (her choice) and even incorporated another little girl her age into the game.
They played in the fountain in the center of the square as well, getting soaking wet, a relief in the incredible heat and humidity. And then we hit John’s Pizzaria on Bleecker Street, still there after all these years and a few expansions.
Back when we lived in the city in the ‘70s it was still just a cubbyhole with lines snaking down Bleecker Street of people waiting to get in—no reservations, my kind of place—to taste what Villagers and the rest of the downtown community continuously argued over then, which was better Ray’s thicker crust pizza on the corner of Eleventh Street and Sixth Avenue just across the street from P.S. 41, or John’s brick oven thin crust down on Bleecker near Seventh Avenue.
Hey, it still tasted great, and they let my little guy and his buddy carve their names and initials in the walls of the booth alongside decades of other carvings. Sweet trip to the city, beautiful visit, lots of memorable moments.
But maybe the most memorable was discovering a tree full of bright green parrots cavorting in one of the trees in our local park in Jersey, parrots that I’ve read have migrated as far North as Connecticut these days, something to do with “global warming” or as some call it, “climate change”—but then we can’t be sure there really is such a thing according to rightwingers. These parrots just decided they liked the climate better in Jersey these past few years. Who can blame them?