Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer Evenings: Water Lily Concert

The "official" end of summer may be Labor Day, but for those of us who get the perk of Summer Fridays, the real end of summer comes when those "free" Fridays run out. You are suddenly left with the realization that all those grand plans you had made in June to visit parts of New York you hadn't seen before, to go to the New York Botanical Garden more often, and to enjoy life outside more than inside with the air conditioning, were not fulfilled. You feel the need to cram things in ... before time runs out.

My last official Summer Friday weekend was like that. I decided that I'd better take advantage of this last weekend, by scheduling a whole bunch of outings - starting with a Thursday night trip to the Botanical Garden after work for the last of their summer Water Lily concerts.

I had planned to arrive earlyish, so I could wander a bit, but there were 40-60 minute train delays going in and out of Grand Central due to an earlier electrical outage at the Terminal. Somehow, and I'm still not quite sure, I managed to grab a seat on a 5:40 train leaving the station. I arrived in plenty of time to queue up to one of the three dinner food trucks to try kimchi tacos. So spicy. So messy. So good. What's not pictured is how my mouth was pleasantly burning ... so much so that I had to go and quench the fire with a brownie from the dessert sweets truck! (Also, props to me for trying the kimchi again. The last time I had it, during an ex-boyfriend's family holiday dinner years ago, I started crying immediately. I've refined my palate since then and scorched my intestines on jalapenos, habaneros, and sriracha sauce, so I thought I'd be okay. I was ... until the middle of the night. Anyway ...)

It was a beautifully breezy evening. Earlier in the week and day, the organizers thought they were going to have to move the concert indoors due to rain, but the forecast held long enough for it to be outside. As we took our seats, (or picnic blankets, or lawn chairs) many of us were watching the cloud formations to the south of us. Distant thunder, heat lightning, and many a flash provided an unusually dramatic atmosphere for the duo acoustic guitar concert. Since the theme of the then-current exhibition was the Gardens of the Alhambra, and the Spanish guitarists were playing many of the famous guitar works from Spain, some actually based on the theme, it seemed like we were transported to an exotic locale. The calls of nature, the geese flying over head, the scree of the hawks and jays, the chirping of the night swallows, and the thrum of the crickets, only added to the symphony of the night.

At certain points, I could literally feel myself relaxing. The deep sighs rolling up from the souls of my feet were almost involuntary, while my defensive hunch only became apparent as my body let go of some tension and my shoulders just dropped back down to where they should be. If the insects weren't gnawing on my ankles, I probably could have dozed off - only to be awoken by the thunder of applause.

Unfortunately, the only drawback to such an evening is the annoying wait for my train. The station is well lit, but most of the audience was headed in the opposite direction as me. I had about an hour to stay alert, pretend to not be concerned by the fact that I was in the Bronx, after dark, alone, on an isolated platform, until the right train came by. I took a lot of photos (RIP butterfly and Nikon), but only these are worth sharing.

When the sun goes down and the lights go up, sometimes familiar objects are revealed in new ways. Who knew the station had stained glass in the tower? You don't notice during the day.

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