My second day in the Rockaways dawned clear, with bright blue skies scattered with clouds. Taking a bus to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, we found tree swallows in the dozens swooping around in the wind. The views were across marsh and water, and we learned the odd creaking song made by the red-winged blackbird. Below, my list of the birds I saw here:
There were a few tourists from out of the country, which I found interesting, but it was a gorgeous day to be out. At the visitors center, a woman imitated a bird call for help from a staff member on identifying it. As she sang, his eyes caught mine, a slight grin on his face. He, of course, could not identify the bird she was imitating. What poor voices we humans have. Later, lunch at The Restaurant, a local diner, and a gorgeous sunset across from JFK, where a few locals were fishing. The texture of the beaches there, with skeins of dried saltmarsh cordgrass lining the sand; they’ll sink just a little beneath your feet.
The next day, it began to rain again but I still made my way down to the beach where a number of surfers were battling the swells. In even larger numbers were sanderlings–I love the motion of them, the push and pull of their movements with the waves. Their marks like the sketch of labryinths in the sand. There, there were also a few piping plovers whose tan feathers blended in with the beach, and a few American oystercatchers with their high-pitched calls and thin, bright orange beaks.
I’m calling the photo above “The American Dream.” 😉
It was an amazing, relaxing retreat at beach64 that I sorely needed. I’m rethinking the story I’m working on, the focus of the narrator and the nature of what she’s battling; the role of the birds will probably play an even larger role, as well as the mythic underpinnings of the story. Reading I’ve been inspired by lately are Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle and Jon Young’s What the Robin Knows, as well as Helen Oyeyemi’s Gingerbread. I only wish I could’ve stayed longer!
This Saturday was the reading I organized—Literary Geographies: A Celebration of Queens Writers! Thank you to all those who came, from my sister and brother-in-law who drove all the way from Long Island to a high school friend I hadn’t seen in years to JPB who introduced the writers and came down from Boston to friends who made the trek out to Queens from other boroughs. And thanks to the QCA and to the folks at the Socrates Sculpture Park, as well! Although it was incredibly sunny and hot, it was truly wonderful to meet the other writers who read with me—Joanne, Jennifer, and Concetta—as well as other members of the Queens arts community—Joan, Anjali, Johanne. Here are some photos from the event!
Afterwards, to Break Bar for jenga+pool then Sripraphai for some tasty thai food—crispy chinese watercress salad, drunken noodles, fried taro+peanuts, penang curry, jungle curry, pad thai, crispy taro in warm coconut milk and water chestnuts+jackfruit (indistinguishable!) in bright colors and floating in a thin sugary broth that reminded ijl of cereal milk.
Today, after a morning of doughnuts and badminton, tea and a quick 2ish mile run, I cracked open Ottolenghi’s Plenty and proceeded to make his “Very full tart.” It’s a beautiful tart (although the vegetable/cheese proportions may be off since it would have been overflowing if I’d added every single thing he said to!) and I can’t wait to eat it.
I probably learned that wonderful piece of “mathematics” first at Omi International Arts Center but hey, I’m reprising it here in New York City! Come join me and three other Queens-based writers at a free public reading at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City on July 11th at 4pm. It’s a bit early to announce it (I seem to like to tell people things last minute, I suppose) but I know people plan their summers way ahead of time.
This will be the culmination of my QCA grant and so, disclaimer: This event is made possible by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The readings will focus on place and I’ve finally finalized my list of readers! They are Joanne Chin, Jennifer Baker, and Concetta A. Ceriello. Yay to discovering new (to me) local writers!
Okay, here’s the official Facebook events page but in case you’re not on Facebook, here are the important details:
July 11, 2015, 4:00pm
Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY
Here’s a map with directions, courtesy of the park.
Come out and support the Queens literary community and say hello! (Maybe I will make cookies…? No promises.)