Looking at this photo taken outside the Jane Hotel in New York reminds me of a time when I was at home in a city I haven't been to since the week before the US lockdown in March 2020. I lived around the corner with my then partner, and we had seen the effects of extreme weather the autumn before, when Hurricane Sandy flooded lower Manhattan. We were unable to return to our building for nearly a month. Here's what I wrote at the time: 12 November 2012 The need [...]
My usual walk is to Lake Mansfield, through the neighborhood we call "The Hill." I occasionally see people but not many. It's a quiet neighborhood, and even quieter along the lake until you get to the beach (busy this time of year). But this morning we needed milk so I walked down the hill to Main Street, to the Berkshire Coop. I had other on-foot errands (dropping boxes of cereal the no one likes at the food pantry and returning hangers to the drycleaners) I could do. More important, I [...]
I liked this response to a blog post urging people to say hello to 5 strangers today. It's good to be reminded that these things are cultural and regional, not ingrained. We can learn to be more community minded! I admit, though, that I was startled when someone in my apartment building in New York actually started talking to me in the elevator one day, first about shoe laces that won't stay tied, then about the party he was going to, the friends he was hanging out with and didn't [...]
As I write a book I describe as a tale of two villages, Camberwell and Great Barrington, I am glad to have yet a third village to use as another point of reference. And this one is actually called a village, though it's even more urban than Camberwell, my London neighborhood. Over the past few years I've spent a good part of my time in what is now known as the West Village - really just part of the whole of Greenwich Village, New York City. Not only is it [...]
I belonged to a community garden as a teenager in Palo Alto and had an allotment in London, so it's easy for me to see the story behind this story in the New York Times. Things don't always work perfectly between people, even in the garden. (Remember that the Biblical creation story is set in a garden?) While we start with good intentions and visions of melons and mesclun, other things can interfere--not only weather and weeds but work and domestic pressures. I remember, guiltily, the inconsistent attention I gave [...]
Fascinating to consider how we became so capable of being alone together. The quiet and solitude of a modern Western coffee shop is more like libraries used to be.