The beginning of spring on the east coast is always one full of mixed weather, mixed wardrobes, and mixed emotions. While our brains know that warm weather is upon us (or on some days, like today, here), most of us are still covering our sickeningly pale selves with dark coats and limp, overused umbrellas, so actual “spring” seems so very far away. January and February might seem long, but March and April and sometimes even May are really the most frustrating teases. At least in the winter you know what to expect, but in spring, with its sporadic tastes of sun and warmth, every morning you’re at a loss. Every which way you look, store windows of Fifth Avenue taunt you with bright, colorful clothing, sandals, swimwear, all of which are still quite useless and will remain so until at least late May.
Usually it’s at this point of the year when we wonder why we put up with it; why live in darkened misery for months and months when there are people in this very country, nay time zone, who enjoy sunshine and warmth and, I don’t know, HAPPINESS, year round?
Ok, so maybe you spoiled Angelenos and Miamians will never have to know what it’s like to have to check weather.com every night from October to May so that you can plan your outfit (and well, plans, for that matter) for the next day. Or the weight of a heavy coat, scarf, and hat and how it never seems to be warm enough outside, but is STIFLING once you step indoors. Or what weeks of grey skies and white thighs can do to your psyche. Or the blow that is the stray spring snowfall. Yes, you are lucky. But you will also never know the euphoria of that first day: the very first day that we sad suckers are able to sheepishly shed our coats and blind each other with our gleaming, luminous whiteness and romp around the city to the tune of Beethoven’s sixth. We’ve had a couple of those glorious days, my friends, and they’ve been everything I thought they would be.
In the suburbs this weather means the smell of people grilling, the sound of lawns being mowed, and kids playing outside. In the city it means long walks, lazing in parks, and rooftop cocktails.
Naturally anytime we get one of these days John and I want to soak up as much of this temporary bliss as possible, so the plan is to do outdoorsy things. There are plenty of great options for this mission in NYC, and we’ve taken advantage of several over the last couple of weeks. Sometimes when I tell people I live in New York, they go on about how they could never live here; not enough green, too crowded, too dirty, etc. These people are horribly misinformed. Here are some of the fabulous outdoorsy things John and I have been up to and can’t wait for more of when summer rolls around.
- The Village, People – when you live in New York you walk. A lot. We live on 2nd Avenue and when the weather is nice, it’s a straight shot on the bus to the Lower East Side. There is so much to buy and see and eat in this eclectic, young neighborhood, and of course it doesn’t end when you head westward. One of my favorite things to do is walk from W. 4th and 2nd all the way to the Hudson River Park. With a little detouring here and there, you can revel in all that is anti-Midtown, low-building glory. We usually backtrack and head east first to have a crepe or an ice cream or a slice of pie or a lobster roll or a knish or a piece of rugelach: the walking removes all guilt. You can then head west through the East Village, down a bit to Soho, through Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park, over to the West Village, and finally to the Hudson River and the beautiful park and piers. When people tell me that they don’t like New York, I guarantee they’ll change their mind once they do this walk.
- Packing Heat – the Meatpacking District has the reputation of being full of chic chi clubs full of models and other equally perfect people waiting in long lines desperate to get into them . . . and it’s true. But that’s not all there is to it. While I’d suggest avoiding this area, say, between the hours of 8 PM and 4 AM every Friday and Saturday, there’s much worth seeing here. My favorite is the High Line park. The High Line was originally built to remove freight trains from street level traffic, which petered out by the early 1980s. Last June it reopened as a park, and it’s a must see if you’re an architecture, art, or nature lover. Once you’ve checked it out, you can get a beer at the fabulously designed Standard Hotel’s outdoor biergarten or the Maritime Hotel, which are great places for people watching. Next, head a bit south to the Chelsea Market. It’s the birthplace of the Oreo, so it’s not only a great historical, nay religious, landmark but it’s also full of yummy noshes. If you’re a foodie like me, you’ll die.
- Pic-a-little, Talk-a-little – I’ve found that there is absolutely nothing better than a picnic in Central Park. It doesn’t matter how crowded it is, you’ll find a place to throw your blanket and you’ll never want to leave. John and I decided to have a picnic brunch on Easter, so the Saturday before we headed to another foodie paradise, Murray’s Cheese, to assemble our goodies. We lucked out and had bright blue skies, mid-70s temps, and absolute bliss. We had the creamiest New York camembert, a drunken goat cheese (semi-hard, soaked in red wine), Genoa salami, dried apricots, a freshly baked baguette, Nutella, mimosas, and of course, Easter eggs. It was heaven. If you don’t have time to go downtown, you can also shop at Zabar’s or, if you’re brave enough fend through the crowds, the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle, which is the biggest in the world.
After a long, cold winter, doing any of the above will remind you of what it feels like to be human. Would it be great to be able to do this, say, every single weekend of the year? Sure. But would it feel as special? Probably not. Are temperatures in the 80s today? Yes. Will they be in the low 50s this weekend? Definitely. Could it snow at any given moment? Absolutely. But it’s a small price to pay when you consider how heart-burstingly perfect it is to drink many, many mimosas in Central Park on one of those special “first days” of the year.