When we moved out to Brooklyn a few years ago, I was okay with our neighborhood, it was close to the train and Park Slope and friends. When we moved farther down the line last summer, I got a little freaked out. While it was only a subway stop further, it felt FAR OUT. It is far out. Park Slope is suddenly a shlep and takeout places don’t deliver here. And while this past year has been a whirlwind of renovation, pregnancy, long ass winter, more pregnancy, soggy spring, here we are, and I finally feel at a place where I can start to appreciate where we live and make it our home.
Last weekend we joined our local community garden. Membership includes a key to the garden, two containers to grow stuff (and we’re waitlisted for a small plot) and access to the compost bins, herb garden and a lovely green ENCLOSED outdoor space. I went over with the boys and we tried to see the fish in the fish pond, looked for snails and chucked unripe apricots at the compost bins, a lovely way to spend an hour. I’m so pleased to be a member of this garden, not only because it’s one step closer to feeling like we actually live in a community, but because my kids will have the chance to learn how things grow, to have respect for that which does grow and lives outdoors and know how to get their hands dirty.
We also live a few blocks away from the Kensington Stables. Actual horse stables (you know those horses you sometimes see in the park, this is where they come from) where one can go in and look at the horses and feed them carrots and for $3 take a pony ride three times up and down the block. Here is H riding his first pony. Sniff.
A few blocks from the horses, we found a guy who keeps fancy chickens in his front yard. I have no idea what breed of chicken Mel and Ed are (they are fancy looking, Mel is white, Ed is black) and the guy sometimes lets H feed them and has told us they scare off the cats and any other predators they might have. It has reinforced my desire to have chickens. Some day. On days when I can’t stand the idea of going and looking at horses standing around, we will go see if the chickens are out in the yard.
And a few blocks away from that, is the Sean Casey Animal Rescue Clinic, they specialize in rescuing reptiles and in their courtyard they have three huge Sulcata tortoises (I only know they are called Sulcata’s because we once owned one. We were those terrible people who bought a tortoise not knowing what we were getting ourselves into and once he got too big for the apartment, we had to send him down to Florida to find a new home.) Visiting the turtles is endlessly exciting, even though for the most part they are sleeping or eating lettuces. Sometimes, we can go inside the shop and look at the snakes, gerbils, parrots, grubs and occasional cat and dog.
And I can’t not mention the Prospect Farm, a small plot of land that is being turned into a working farm on Prospect Avenue, across the street from the fruit grove (somebody has fig, peach, pear, plum and apple trees in their yard) and the dude who makes his own maple syrup and sells it on the sidewalk on weekends.
Sometimes I feel weird that we live in NYC and I have seemingly stopped taking advantage of what this city offers, but the other day I realized that given where I am in my life right now, there is so much more to enjoy right where I am. This weird little neighborhood wouldn’t exist if the most fabulous and wonderful people didn’t live in this city for whatever reason they have to be here, and for some reason have decided to make this little corner of town into a veritable farmstead, an urban country. And in my continued effort to exist in the present, it’s a pretty good place to be.