|(This photo reminds me the littlest bit of my favorite Van Gogh painting)|
On Sunday afternoon, I gave my Scrabble Lady a call to see if she was up for a visit. But after dialing the number of her landline, an operator message informed me the line was currently being repaired. Strange.
There was no other way to reach her - she doesn't have a cell phone. Neither is she on email, as she's somewhat suspicious of computers. (Although she was inexplicably moved by Steve Jobs' death, going so far as to send a consolation card to his wife and venturing beyond the Upper East Side (a rare event for her) to visit the vigil at the 59th Street Apple Store.)
It was so beautiful outside on Sunday; I thought it might be possible that my friend was hanging out in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park, a familiar haunt of hers. A slim chance, but I figured there are worse ways to fail. So I set off across the park, towards the garden in the northeast corner.
The north end was still pretty winter-bare: fountain was empty and no flowering plants to be seen yet. These trees along the lawn will one day be full of blooms, but right now their gnarly branches are still exposed.
My Scrabble Lady got married in the garden (near where the above photo was taken) back in 1970. And in December, if you can believe it. She married a Tunisian man, 12 years her junior, but that is a story for another time.
Over 40 years later, my friend still lives in the same 6-floor walk-up apartment close to the garden. This place is special to her - she makes a point of introducing herself to all the park rangers who work here. They call her "Sweetie" and seem happy to see her. Every autumn, she picks up quinces that have fallen off their shrubs and makes a pie.
This yellow tree, near the 5th Avenue gate, provided the most color in the garden on Sunday. (And that blue, blue sky behind? Enough to make Ella scat.)
Once upon a time, my friend met a couple here, on the entrance steps. The couple stayed in touch over the years, adding my friend to the mailing list for their home-made political newspaper. Years later, they invited her to (what she thought was) a party, and she in turn invited me and another young friend of hers, Brando, hoping to make a love match of us. The "party" turned out to be an off-kilter political meeting in the crowded and dusty home of two hoarders in need of serious help, and there was no match to be made. But that too is a story for another time.
Snow-drops are fading already. They'll be cleared out soon for daffodils, then tulips, then summer flowers, then fall plantings. And so it goes.
The trellis, behind the lawn, is still bare-branched. When the leaves come in, it'll be a green canopy. My Scrabble Lady once showed me where raccoons like to nest, up on the joints of the trellis. I looked for the raccoons, as well as my friend, but found neither. (I did see a squirrel in a trashcan, though!) (not pictured.)
Beneath the trellis are 13 round tiles, representing the 13 original colonies. I've lived in 3 of 'em, or approximately 23.08%. #HistoricalMath
I scoured the entire garden, but no sign of my Scrabble Lady. Probably she was off socializing somewhere. "I'm lucky I'm so gregarious," she has told me on more than one occasion. True.
I'm lucky to know her, even if our paths didn't cross (as hoped) this past Sunday. I left the garden and wandered south on 5th Avenue, past the East Meadow and then skirted the bottom of the Reservoir before heading home. I missed her company, but my path that day was sunny and sweet nonetheless.