Over the last week or so we’ve gone from winter to summer and back again. The random temperature fluctuations don’t seem to have distressed the city’s botanical inhabitants much though, and spring is not so much springing as flinging itself about.
Walking through Central Park just a couple of weeks ago the snowdrops were peeking up around lumps of leftover ice – now the daffodils, tulips, magnolias and other blossoming trees provide a riot of colour, whilst a good rain has turned the winter-battered grass green again. The city even smells pleasantly floral. It’s all rather lovely, and a welcome change after a long and snowy winter.
Despite not being a public holiday, Easter is quite a big deal here (and if not Easter then Passover, which is huge). For some reason this year I have been struck especially hard by the ridiculousness of the whole pink-flowers-and-bunnies thing, possibly because our choir commitments have ensured that we’ve been rather more immersed in the Holy Week liturgy than would normally have been the case. Nevertheless I must admit that we prevailed on both our recent sets of visitors to bring us Cadbury’s mini eggs, we’ve enjoyed introducing simnel cake to some of our American friends, and last weekend found me baking hot cross buns, thereby perpetuating a subset of slightly suspect traditions ourselves (even going so far as a chocolate bunny of our own).
In keeping with the somewhat random energy generated by all this (to say nothing of longer days and excessive amounts of chocolate) we’ve been flitting between choir practices and cultural experiences in almost equal measures.
Thanks to some friends with a spare ticket we went to what I believe was our first professional off-Broadway play, in fact a double-bill of two short contemporary plays, part of the Brits off Broadway series. The first of these – Clean – was apparently written to address the excess of male-dominated spy/thriller type stories, and featured three doyennes of London’s crime scene in an international heist. The second – A respectable widow takes to vulgarity – charts an unlikely but touching friendship which springs up between the eponymous widow and one of her late husband’s young employees. Both plays captured the tone and speech patterns of their characters brilliantly, and had plenty of British humour and cultural allusions to make us feel right at home.
The other event I wanted to write about was one of the most random and engaging things I’ve experienced for ages. One of the current exhibitions on show at the Morgan is A Collective Invention: Photographs at Play, in which around 80 photos (both historical and contemporary) are arranged in a daisy-chain of references (in the words of the website, each image “shares a visual or conceptual quality with the piece to its left, another with the one to its right”). Earlier this week we went to a related event, which turned out to be a series of ten collectors each speaking for ten minutes about their personal collections. These ranged from historic postcards and art photography to coffee cup lids, books written by survivors of shipwrecks, and toilet paper from various stops on a European tour – by turns perplexing, engaging, and so much fun!