The pace of walkers everywhere in Manhattan quickens, the throng of tourists in midtown thins–though it amazes me that in the middle of a harsh winter, international sightseers still abound. In the fall, Fattened tourists give way to fashionistas, college students reduce their radius and buckle down for some serious studying, studding and slugging down their share.
In the last half of August, giant leaves begin to litter the greenery of Bryant Park. One fell right into my lap yesterday, perfectly ochre, the size of a horse’s hoof. A few days ago I stood on the raised terrace and watched the race for space at the final outdoor movie of the season (Raiders of the Lost Ark), blankets waving behind spectators like superhero capes, flying full speed to stake out the best spot on Bryant Park’s famous lawn. Bryant Park is a great place all year, but it sings in the summer: concerts, outdoor reading, ping-pong, chess, the carousel, juggling. The final summer jazz concert by the fountain was so large that fans clogged the sidewalk, annoying and entertaining passers-by at the same time.
The days and evenings are as sultry as they were in late July but in the wee hours, walking back to my place in Chelsea from a late movie at the Angelica, the thermometer dropped into a temperature that would be exhilarating if it weren’t a harbinger of the cold to come.
The Green Market at Union Square overflows–people are in the mood to buy more than they need, in response to an instinct to stock up: lean pickins’ ahead.
Even the little street-side gardens, wrought iron squares around boulevard trees, are reverting to ivy and bolting coleus, as if they understood the heavy lifting of sprits is done and it’s time to act their age.
The people of Manhattan ready themselves this weekend for the American rite of passage, when some parents usher their children off to elementary school down the street with a tinge of bittersweet pride, others endure the ache and expense of education far from home, and every autumn since 1959, short plaid wool skirts decorate the window at Macy’s.
On Tuesday morning, it will feel as though we New Yorkers have the power: we practically will the weather to change. “Bring it on,” thinks the college kid from Topeka, in the auditorium for his first lecture down at NYU. “Bring it on,” writes the buyer for Holiday decor at Macy’s. “Bring it on,” says the mother of three, who, exhausted and relieved, will nevertheless, look forward to next summer.
Bring it on.