Today we found a neighbourhood I knew nothing about. Brooklyn is big. Really big. And I know bits of it.
Our bit is Cobble Hill. Bluestone flagstones on the sidewalk colour both the street- and audioscapes; tall trees, discreet brownstones and townhouses, expensive strollers pushed by rather entitled mothers; little, pretty parks, a stretch of Atlantic that is comfortingly Middle Eastern, and human; good food shops: cheese, bread, meat, fruit, vegetables. Serious restaurants close by, Manhattan ten minutes away. It's all very attractive and civilized
We took the F to Church Street and came out in what looked a lot like a suburb once off the main drag, except one with big, solid apartment buildings, wide avenues, and a population on the street that is the least homogeneous I've seen in New York.
On the cement sidewalks of Kensington were old Ukrainian ladies in sandals and knee high natural stockings, ladies in saris, in burkas, men in kurtas; yarmulkes, kufis, Hasidic hats.
I liked it.
Even before I saw the people, I knew from my recent BBG judging experience that the mosaicly bright gardens in front of the houses signified an "ethnic" population. The adjective amuses me. Am I ethnic? And why is an Indian family ethnic? Anyway, folks were growing things. Food.
This one fence had four kinds of beans rampant over its mesh: green beans, yard long beans, hyacinth beans and one I'd never seen before.
Squash and gourds grew up every available vertical surface. There were little pepper bushes and aubergines and tomatoes. There was a grocery that sold fresh pea shoots and amaranth from boxes. I perked up. I could live here.
There were stand-alone houses (as opposed to connected brownstones and townhouses) and bits of green everywhere.
But the apartment we looked at was on busy, noisy Ocean Parkway and was very old and urenovated. Windows stuck in place. The garden, if you can call it that, was surrounded by rotting fences covered in astroturf. Yup. The landlady, a lip-linered, bust-enhanced Russian, had a sporty BMW and Mercedes parked in her driveway next door. Her dark garden was chipped marble and bad statuary and lots of shade.
It wouldn't work.
This autumn clematis foaming over a fence showed that August is over.
I have put a request into the Universe for an apartment with lots of light, and a terrace.
I asked nicely.