Our family spent the weekend in New York City, just doing a little sight-seeing and soaking up the local color. Expecting rain and cold, we dressed like typical New Englanders, but were pleasantly surprised when the rain held off for most of Saturday. Having spent the afternoon wallowing in little souvenir shops in Chinatown, and late lunching at an open-air bistro in Little Italy, we spent the evening getting culture-fied at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the Upper East side of Central Park.
When I was in my 20s, I used to take a lot of trips into New York City, and spent most of my time in the lower island browsing shops and bookstores, eating in odd restaurants, clubbing in SoHo and Greenwich Village. And once a year I’d get together with a few of my friends and we would tackle the Five Borough Bike Tour, a 25 to 30 mile route that started in Battery Park and finished in Staten Island. Once or twice, the cold, wet spring rains determined us to seek shelter from the rigors of the seasons; we might have dropped out early from the inclemencies of the weather to seekk solace in the local watering holes. But those are stories for other days.
When you live in a small New England town (are there any other kind?), you can easily be overwhelmed by the majesty of the architecture in a big city. We stayed in an area that had a mix of old brownstone mansions (converted into co-op housing) and new granite faced behemoths. Thirty years ago, I’d never given much thought to the decoration and ornament on those old buildings, but – as I imagine happens to every Mason – I now marvelled at the work and detail that went into the various columns on the buildings, old and new.
Even more inspiring was the architecture of the outside of the older section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Need I say more?
Okay, then how about a taste of the inside?
We simply do not see things built to this kind of scale in our small ex-farming communities.
In one of those synchronistic linkings, just a few weeks ago I rehearsed a section from a lecture pertaining to columns such as these, so I might have been just a little more attuned to noticing them in passing than I otherwise might have been. Coincidentally, by the time we got to the galleries, there was a rather nasty storm raging outside, so the opportunity to seek shelter from the inclemencies of the weather was not lost on us.I enjoyed the opportunity to point out little details to my daughter, after which we spent some time in the inevitable museum gift shop.
As it happens, the Met has a wonderfull gallery filled with a number of similar items, plus several entire rooms devoted to the art and scuplture from that period. I know that most of my brethren think of visiting famous lodges when on a trip to NYC, but hopefully I’ve suggested a curious way to spend an afternoon before those lodges are in session.