Ah... the air is light again. Coming back from the city, I at once can't wait to return to the city, and at the same time am quite ready to be home. Like my aunt Mary Beth was recently telling me, I seem town by two worlds. Washington County, the farm and the home I grew up in, and the world. Cosmopolitan, multilingual, multicultural. New York City seems like the capital of the world, containing a little bit of every corner, a dash of flavor from every nation and language. Yet for today, I'm glad to step out of my car to see the rolling green hills yet again, to visit my garden in town and browse the quiet Cambridge Farmer's Market. The pace is so slow in comparison to Manhattan, and even Brooklyn, that I get self-conscious if I go any faster than a meander, or spend less than two minutes in idle conversation with a vendor. I got used to Manhattan for a moment, and now I'm coming back to country time. What's the rush? No subways to miss, no lines to beat.
My favorite part of the city had to be Chinatown. For us country folk, it's an experience quite apart. Being able to step off Brooklyn Bridge, take a turn and find ourselves in another country, seemingly. If I were to walk one hour in any direction from my home here, I'd hear nothing but English, and it'd be old farmers pulling up and asking if I needed a lift. In Chinatown, I think the language ratio was about 60% Chinese, 30% Spanish, and a knock-down slug-out fight between English, Vietnamese, French, German and the rest for the 10% remaining. And I loved it, of course.
Brooklyn was great, too. At least the small part of it I saw, which was mostly Prospect Heights and Park Slope. It's easy to lose perspective in the city, and I realize we barely even saw Brooklyn, though our legs seemed to act like they'd walked all of it. I loved seeing the old Italian mom-and-pop pizza places, Carribbean and soul-food restaurants, old-style barbershops with portraits of Martin Luther King, Jr. hanging on the wall, and the bodegas where I could practice my Spanish to heart's content. And of course there was Tom's, which seems like it's been there since before Brooklyn itself, and will survive long after Brooklyn, if that's even possible. Try the Mexican Omelet with chipotle, definitely a safe selection. Yep, I certainly took a shining to Brooklyn. It doesn't run me over flat like Manhattan can.
After all that, some of you city folks might be thinking that life just gets boring after a trip to the city, but I tell you it's good to be home. Say what you want, the air is different, and I know it the second I'm outdoors. Aaron and I were talking about this one day, while walking in Brooklyn back to our host apartment. Aaron put it this way, the city air does its job, jus tlike air should. It gets you the oxygen and that's it. The country air we missed is like the person or thing that does its job and then some. Heroic, extra-competent, as we call it in Windflowerese. It does a little healing in the process, the country air. A little mind, some soul, and yes, certainly some in the body.
Besides the air, it's good to be home for other reasons. The times I'm outside in the early morning or late night and find myself under a heaven-made chandelier of stars, thousands visible with the naked eye, or seeing the frost on the grass seemingly glow blue from the full moon's light, I can't think of another place I'd rather be. People pay hundreds to see on vacation what I see driving the tractor out at eight in the morning, the wide field of winter rye stabbing through cold October soil. Yes, for sure New York City will see me again, and gladly, but for now I sign off, there are stars to see.