Over the last week or so the weather here seems to have jumped straight from winter to summer, and the temperature has gone up by around 20C (although I understand that it will shortly revert to a more seasonal level). To keep myself from spending the afternoon pining for air-conditioning (which this apartment sadly lacks) I thought I would put together a quick round-up of highlights from the last few weeks.
Exactly a month ago we hosted our first visitors of the year, and spent a lovely week charging around the sights, and sampling the delights of as many bars and restaurants as we could manage. A particular highlight for me was taking a boat trip around the entire island of Manhattan which I’ve been wanting to do for ages, and it was so interesting to watch the skyscrapers fall away to be replaced by shorter buildings, parkland, and even some cliffs. Spending so much time in the heart of the city it’s very easy to forget that ‘proper’ scenery is so close by!
Easter was almost entirely taken up with church services. Normally our choir just sings at the 9am Sunday service, but on special occasions we join forces with the 11am and children’s choirs, which meant double services on Palm Sunday and Easter day, as well as the 7pm Easter Vigil service on Saturday.
The Vigil was quite unlike anything I’d experienced previously – it began in absolute darkness, then accompanied by plainsong chants we all gradually lit our candles so the church was filled with small flickering lights. At the key liturgical moment the atmosphere was completely transformed as the main lights were switched on and the air was filled with incense, loud organ music and a cacophony of handbells (rung with great enthusiasm by most of the choristers), and the service proceeded to its end in much more lively fashion.
Easter day itself was also a lot of fun, with spring flowers everywhere and a brass quartet and timpanist to add to the festive musical atmosphere. I think over 1000 people attended the 11am service (& the 9am was popular too). We also attended a most interesting service on Good Friday – a series of 7 meditations on Christ’s last words on the cross (based (I think) on a Jesuit practice). Each segment included an anthem sung by the choir, a hymn, the reading, a time of silence and a short address. We arrived about 30 minutes in and only intended to stay for a short while (the congregation were invited to come and go as necessary, as the whole thing lasted for 3 hours), but we ended up staying until the end.
Last weekend wasn’t quite as warm as it is today but we took advantage of a sunny and pleasant Saturday to explore the northern section of Central Park (generally we don’t venture further than the path around the reservoir). We very much enjoyed wandering up and down the hills, watching the ducks on the Harlem Meer, admiring the daffodils, and imagining what the formal Conservatory Garden might look like when all the flowers are in bloom.