Right off, I notice my street chops are down; I take to the sidewalk more than once. The Loire Valley can spoil a person for traffic, and I’ve gotten used to not having to pay so much attention to safety. But in a couple of days, it all comes back as I ride the familiar routes to the Upper West, and up to the Promenades, making stops in City streets along the way.
Soon too, I am back to the routines of my life – the ones I’d gone on vacation to forget about: probate, renovation, health. Ugh.
Today is a day spent in Surrogate’s Court – a dry run for Probate. Back home, I slog through mind-numbing forms as best I can. By 6, I’ve had enough and need a ride to keep my sanity.
Since I’ve been back, not surprisingly I’ve felt constrained by my neighborhood rides. It has been great to really stretch out in France, see brand new places (and what places!), ride unfamiliar roads and never know what’s around the corner. No impatience with Lucille – she’s responsive and eager – but feeling just a little hemmed in geographically. And then today, I am reminded just why I love to ride in New York.
I take the Hudson Greenway down towards the Battery. This is not a new ride for me, though the route is one you have to learn because it’s not laid out in a linear fashion; at a certain point in Battery Park City, the official bike path just disappears, and you have to know how and where to pick it up. But this time – maybe it’s the fresh perspective that a vacation brings – I stumble across something I’ve been too busy navigating to notice, though I must have passed it countless times (and it’s been there since 2002): The Irish Hunger Memorial. Dedicated to the over 1 million people who starved to death in the Irish potato famine (1845-1852).
It's on Vesey and North End Streets - easy to miss if you don't know what to look for.
Headline: potato plague in United States. Unlikely to spread to Ireland.
Headline: potato plague found in Ireland.
Personal Description: of parents watching their house burn, knowing they have four children to take care of.
Personal Description: the heroism of so many giving to others even when they have so little.
And most horrifically:
Opinion excerpt: Ireland is too overpopulated anyway and needs to be culled.
She truly showed her French countrymen with all of their foibles: their pettiness and snobbism, their fear as well as their bravery. As I recall the Irish quotes, and with her book fresh in my mind, I can only wonder at both the scope and commonality in all of us, no matter who or where we are: the meanness and greed, the kindness and generosity. I don’t suppose this is an original thought. But I had only gone for a bike ride – and here I am contemplating the human condition. That’s why riding in New York is so great.
Fueled with such wonder, I ride around the Battery in spite of myself. The riding there is often dark, uneven and bumpy, so I don’t generally take this path. But today it is like rediscovering the South Street Seaport, the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges all over again.
On the way back, I see this wacky exercise area built beneath the FDR (every inch of Manhattan Island is eligible for use).
If you ride in New York, you will never get France. But I will go back to France. Meanwhile, I’ll be riding in New York – and that could take me anywhere.