How To Get A Street Mime To Break His Frieze or What Cheered Me Up Last Friday

Despite the gorgeous weather in New York City last Friday, I was mildly melancholy until these few things caught my eye, turning my blue skies a bit less blue.

Budding Hyacinth in our building's park. The first spring blooms spotted! Hyacinths of the season in our building’s garden.
So full of hope!
How do they know it’s time? We had warmer days a few weeks ago…

Royal haircut at Parkchester subway station. Royal haircut on the platform of the Parkchester subway station,
just three days fresh.

Copper Suit street mime at Union Square Farmer's Market. The old street-mime-will-move-for-money character posing in Union Square. I never stop for the living statues. But Friday I did. I watched the people watching him, who I dubbed, The Copper Mime. A woman reached behind him, giving his right back pocket a hearty squeeze. Then announced, “He’s a real man!” Her friend called out, “Wear a G-String next time.” The Copper Mime did not break his frieze. The young guys on the right were contorting their faces to get him to do something. Nothing. One guy did a frenetic walking on hot coals in barefeet dance. The Copper Mime shifted his stance and turned away from them, breaking his frieze. They were ecstatic, shouting “We won! We won!” They hadn’t paid him a cent.

A New Leaf, Bronx greenhouse at Union Square Farmer's Market. Always happy to see the plant offerings from New Leaf at Union Square Farmer’s Market. Their Bronx greenhouse, in the Longwood nabe, is huge. They’re always very friendly, if not so specific about some of the plant species. Last summer, I went to the greenhouse for jasmine, but I think I brought home gardenia. New Leaf is part of a community initiative to offer former homeless substance abusers an opportunity to work in a non-traditional environment. Most of the flowers in front of our coop building were bought from them.

Chemistry Lab Safety GogglesThe Bronx Trivia Challenge at FromTheBronx cheered me up. I answered correctly to their question on Day 2! Every morning until Sunday April 5th, they’re posting a trivia question about the Bronx. Here’s the question that’s put me in the running for the prize: Which Bronx school has produced more Nobel Prize-winning scientists (7) than any other secondary education institution in the world? Think you know? Check the answer here.

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To Market , To Market

I import about 99% of my groceries from Manhattan. On a given Saturday morning, my movements are highly predictable by those that know me: I am in some state of getting to or coming from the Union Square Farmer’s Market. A trip there is a fix for me, it sets my weekend on the right foot and if I miss it, I’m cranky the rest of the day, possibly the entire weekend. I go even when my fridge is full with yellow and red chard, flowering thyme, Boston lettuces red and green, chocolate mint, garlic scapes, rocambole garlic, lamb’s quarters (wild spinach), zucchini, crab cakes, black sea bass, smoked pheasant sausage, fresh lamb sausage with pomegranate, cumin and ginger and on and on… I know a few of the farmers by sight and my fish guy calls me “Barracuda” after I told him how I reeled one in on a fishing trip in Jamaica. I haul everything back to the Bronx on the 6 train in freezer bags fitted with ice packs. Of all that I miss about Manhattan, the Union Square Farmer’s Market is at the top of my list.

So when the opportunity came to get to the NY Botanical Garden Farmer’s Market, I could hardly wait.
This greenmarket is on Wednesday days only from late June to late October. I had a free day to go and so did my neighbor Sue, so we hopped on the bus. The market, just inside the garden entrance at the Mosholu Gate, is tiny with three farmers and one baker. I recognized two stands from Union Square. The prices are comparable to Manhattan. Even though my fridge was full that day, I bought fresh bread and more zucchini anyway. Sue bought gorgeous strawberries and rhubarb for a crisp. The best part of the trip was sitting under the majestic Tulip Trees that lead to the luminous Mertz Library Building. Families arrived and children were doing cartwheels on the lawn just behind the Do Not Walk on Grass signs. We sat and talked until we noticed that Sue’s rhubarb leaves were beginning to wilt.

The New York Botanical Garden is free on Wednesdays for strolling the grounds only. This added benefit makes the trip even more worthwhile on a gorgeous summer day. Sue’s strawberry rhubarb crisp with a surprising twist of cardamom, toasted almonds and orange zest was delicious and I regret I didn’t take a bigger piece. Toting my many bags of groceries and ice on the 6 train from Manhattan is exhausting. I’ll have to figure something out…The other Bronx greenmarkets are on my list to check out and I’ve read there’s a food coop in the South Bronx. Surely, the Union Square market bounty will be tricky to find here in the Bronx. If anything I’ll keep going down to Union Square just to be called ” Barracuda”.