Walking down to the river today through the wind-scudded sunlight, with frothing waves in the wake of the ferries skipping over the broad beam of the shining water, I spied the first crocuses pushing up and opening their crayon-colored blooms, Easter-chick yellow and jellybean purple. Green whips of daffodil and tulip leaves are unfurling too, no flowers yet but just the sight of spring green is enough to give my hibernating winter heart a lift. The bulbs I planted last November around the community garden on 2nd Place, just before the ground froze, are coming up too, in orderly rows, interspersed with what look to be hyacinths. The dusty miller in my own little plot weathered the winter surprisingly well. Everything else--the rosemary, the lavender--looks stalky and brown and dead, but I have hopes that, stroked by the sun, they will rejeuvenate. The camomile is already sending out runners topped with feathery whorls of green.
Coming back from last Saturday's "Making Brooklyn Bloom" day at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I had a bag filled with seeds (mixed lettuces, bitty sweet peas--the flower, not the vegetable--cucumbers, Easter-egg radishes, more lettuce) and stacks of pamphlets and brochures on everything from canning to composting. A handy thing to know, if you're gardening in Brooklyn: If you can get out to far eastern Brooklyn on April 8-9th or 22-23rd, you can haul off all the free compost you can carry from the Spring Creek Composting Facility. More info here; bring your own shovel and bags.
But back to the conference, which was free, and jammed, and full of tons of excellent information. My only complaint was the brevity of the thing--you could only sign up for 2 workshops (1 in the morning, 1 in the afternoon), which meant I had to skip the history of agriculture in NYC and the secrets of container gardening in order to get an audience with the sassy Miss Classie, canner divine. It was worth it, though, if only for the taste of her slow-cooked pear-and-brandy preserves. Canning is the road to love, Miss Classie insists; can and the gentleman (or the ladies) will be turning up on your doorstep, following you down the street, and stealing jars out of your kitchen when your back is turned.
I was sitting on a stone wall, watching the tail-flicking, tangerine-colored koi in the reflecting pool and writing to K. (who just returned from a helicopter-and-convoy trip down a few hours south, where herds of camels browsed along the road and large sections of the map were marked merely "numerous scattered villages") when B. rang up, having celebrated the balmy day with a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge, over through Battery Park and up to the Hudson piers. Having no plans, I hopped a train and met him for white wine and smoky eggplant dip at the alluring little Turks and Frogs on 11th St off Greenwich. Located far down what looks like a mostly residential West Village street, this secret-feeling hideaway makes a good first (or last) stop for any West Village date, although the flickering candlelight and small tables tucked in corners will leave no doubt as to your intentions for the rest of the evening.
Having no such intentions, B. and I kept wandering, past the wonderful August, along Bleeker to West Houston and through Soho, trying (and failing) to get a table at the attitude-stacked Arturo's, finally ending up at the always-reliable Fanelli's for a burger and a croque-monsieur. Then across the bridge to home, to bake a puffy gold loaf of dill bread using the fragrant wad of dill dried from B.'s garden last summer, to spread with cream cheese and eat with scrambled eggs on a cool gray rainy Sunday morning.
Turks & Frogs. 323 W 11th St, between Greenwich and Washington Sts. (212) 691-8875.
Fanelli's, 94 Prince St. at Mercer St. (212) 226-9412.