As we like to do every October, Stephen and I recently drove to Brewster, a small town in Westchester County, about an hour north of the city. Our first destination was the company ____, which you will no doubt recognize as an importer of fine ceramics, glass and textiles-not to mention garden statuary and urns. They were holding an 'outlet sale' at their office-park warehouse.
After parking the car, we went directly to a remarkable assortment of cement lions, any one (or more!) of which would have been suitable for the urban garden.
I regretted the lack of space in our current garden and not for the first time dreamed of moving to the estate section of Riverdale in the Bronx. It was not hard to picture ten or fifteen of these magnificent lions scattered about the grounds, some partially submerged in the earth-or at a minimum covered with moss and ferns-perhaps broken into pieces in the attempt to call forth the essence of ruins, which if you are anything like us is one of the most desirable gardening aesthetics for its reflection of a philosophical pessimism that stands in marked contrast to a more Hegelian ethos promulgated by certain shallow-minded optimists or 'utopians'.
Note that if you are investing in 'lionware' for your garden, you will want to avoid a traditional or classical placement-for example, on symmetrical plinths outside a doorway-which will lead you down one of two equally undesirable paths: 'narchitecture' or camp.
I was less enthralled by the selection of lesbian statues on hand.
Inside, we admired serving trays. These are a necessary accessory to the garden, for what else would you use to carry the bottles of _____ with which you will get completely zonkered while staring at the leaf motifs under the flickering candlelight as you lament the current state of your life and society at large?
We bought several green bowls for a friend, whom we excitedly texted with pictures. By spending only $____ for these items in the suburbs, which would have cost $____ in the city, we saved him a lot of money!
We next went a few miles down the road to an apple orchard.
Here we observed throngs of non-homosexual sentimentalists leading their children through the pumpkins.
Despite our status as urban non-heterosexual outsiders, it was easy to get caught up in the excitement. Everything seemed freshly picked and beautifully packaged and not even that expensive.
Just like in our local grocery stores in Washington Heights.
Even the chrysanthemums-that 'perennial' symbol of suburban conformity-tugged at my heart, and for a few seconds I wanted to leave the city and live like any other upper-middle class American married couple in the suburbs with shitloads of disposable income (thanks to the great bank bailout of 2008).
We consoled ourselves by eating at least a dozen donuts each and drinking hot apple cider. We sat in the sun, swatting away the bees, until the vision of what we wanted and did not want was burned away, and I felt relieved by a more familiar sense of resignation and ambivalence.
Back in Washington Heights, I was happy to be mesmerized by the red leaves of a pin oak at 165th Street and St. Nicholas.
Previously: The Hyacinth Bean Vine
Matthew Gallaway is a writer who lives in Washington Heights. His first novel, 'The Metropolis Case,' will be published in 2010 by Crown.