The strandbeests at the end of the world

Underground, I saw a balloon sailing away along the subway tracks, chest height, lifted by an invisible river. It was a dirty grey, smudged with streaks and had probably seen many subway tunnels in its time. It disappeared through the tunnel and the 4 train came right behind it.

*

Near work, in Central Park, the hawks circled the sky and shrieked again and again like a call and response. Mr. Bubbles, as R the doorman calls him, doesn’t even notice, he’s too busy arguing with a Parks staff member who doesn’t like his gallon jug of water. R tells me that Mr. Bubbles, on a good day, makes $300 a day, which isn’t bad for a man who spends the daylight hours making giant bubbles for tourists, but probably significantly less than the man who started The Gazillion Bubble Show (P.S. Trust me, don’t see it. I made that mistake when I was young and naïve and my friends and I thought it was a play.)

*

The grapes are growing well in Astoria. I wonder if they’re for wine. I think all the apricots have fallen and the persimmons don’t come out till fall. One house, with its profusion of flowers, never ceases to astound me. It’s a yard of abundance, almost unseemly in its variety and quantity.   IMG_20150603_135925 IMG_20150828_092006

*

In the subway car, I saw sky in the window of the car in front, as we were making a turn. A bright blue with white clouds. We were underground; the sky never reached my train car.

*

The skies threatened rain during my trip to Cambridge & Ipswich. On the way there, the traffic moving slowly, JB left the car to grab us apple cider donuts from the orchard and sprinted to meet our car which had gained some distance. They were warm and doughy with just the slightest hint of crunch, no sugar coating the outside.

The strandbeests, vastly overwhelmed by the number of people gathered to see them, struggled up the sandy beach with prodding from their handlers. There were two. They moved up slowly, stopped, moved again. And then were dragged backward to repeat the process.

We were told to stay behind the cone. Then a staff member drew a line in the sand, significantly ahead of the cone. Stay behind the line, she said. We moved forward. She drew another line in the sand. Now stay behind this one. And then it was the cone again. It was like a game. But some didn’t follow the rules. Men with toolboxes who just stood there. A woman who was “with him.” The strandbeests toiled up again. Then their sails were folded up and they walked, a slow procession with thousands trailing around, to the other side of the beach and unfurled even more sails.  
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Afterwards, a line of cars to exit that simply didn’t move. Fifteen year old boys to guide everyone out. Folks walking miles into town or perhaps to cars that weren’t trapped in the lot. One woman walking along the side of the road looked as though she would collapse from exhaustion. It was like the end of the world.

Back in Cambridge, we sported our strandbeest tattoos while eating hell fries and huge fried chicken sandwiches. Ice cream eaten right in front of Toscanini’s. Pinochle played in the evening and a half-shaven cat for company. Donuts the next morning in Union Square and a walk up to a tower. Later, over the Mass Ave bridge because I’d forgotten which bridge led to Beacon Hill but the smoots are more scenic anyway. The Boston Public Library as beautiful as ever although the walk back blinded us with a hard drizzle, the Cambridge side of the river a ghost city. P1130019 P1130025 P1130026

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