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One Thing I Love About Home

June 21, 2011

My grocery tis of thee

Sweet land of snacks for me

Fairway I love

Land where the seagulls fly

See lots of boats drive by

And the firetrucks

Poetically, I cannot do Brooklyn Fairway justice. Nor can I cram it into a song. Those sad facts aside, the large grocery on the water down in Red Hook is one of the things that makes me feel smuggest about living here.

Indeed, as a cook, I love the selection of produce, the fish counter, the butcher, the spice area, the condiments. As a parent, I love taking my son there, because there is always something to see. Before we go in there is usually a firetruck with many men cavorting around, trying to decide what to make for their dinner. The parking lot is full of seagulls — not to mention cars. And as a human, always seeking special, almost sacred-feeling spaces in the midst of a city, this is it.

After we make it through the produce, cheese, bread samples, hot and cold tables, the huge olive bar, fish counter, butcher, organic dry goods, and most of the regular groceries, we are ready to park the cart at the cafe, get a ham & cheese croissant and some sliced fruit, and head outdoors to see the ancient cable car, the fast ferries docking, and the slow giant orange Staten Island Ferries plugging back and forth in the distance. Oh, and there’s the Verrazano Narrows bridge, some rusty metal buckets painted with a scraggle of city flowers coming out, the barges and the piece de resistance, the Statue of Liberty. Watching the water here is the one place my kid will eat a meat sandwich and not think twice. We walk along the water, look at the rocks, debate whether seaweed is dirty or just a part of life, point at some helicopters, and go see what Henry calls the “up down boat,” which is a small boat that is tied up and rocks up and down in the water.

The other day I asked if Henry wanted to go out to the beach, or go out to Fairway.

“FairWAY!” he answered. “Man let us go outSIDE!” (He’s referring to a security guard employed to be sure that we have a “paid” sticker on our fruit and sandwich.) “Train, birds, water, and boats!” It’s a special experience, and somehow more than the sum of its parts.

When we arrived, and I didn’t get a coffee, he stopped to make sure that I do so. He loves the ritual like I do.

Call me bourgeois for loving a high-amenity supermarket that I have to drive to, but for a life in Brooklyn, Fairway is up there.

As is the Red Hook pool’s spray garden in the little kid’s pool, as is biking through Prospect Park late on a Sunday afternoon as the light begins to fade, as is seeing fireworks over the ocean while on the Boardwalk at Brighton Beach, as is the connected sweep of American sycamores dappling light and shade across the bucolic streets near our home. If you want to share, I’d love to hear some of what makes your city livable, wherever you are.

One Comment leave one →
  1. frankly manny permalink
    June 22, 2011 7:34 am

    There are surely plenty of things that I love about Austin, that make Austin a fabulous and special place, many of which you already know or can remember, but your post made me think most of these things I miss most about New York, and Brooklyn in particular, and the time of my life when I was there, entering graduate school, living in such a strange and wonderful and loud and busy place, and falling in love with it, and so thanks for that, but also I wish I didn’t miss it quite so much.

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