Central Park Conservancy's plant enclosure.

Today we made a delivery of native red raspberry and blackcap raspberry plants to Central Park. Thorny plants make good living fences apparently. 

We decided to make a day of it, especially since the hour and a half ride to the city (mind you, The City, as there are no others) would tax our family's sanity and one three year old's need to ramble. And so, we rambled. 

After the delivery, we (Jared) drove across town in our full size Dodge truck with a quad cab. I occasionally clung onto the "oh sh*t" handle. Beren asked why there were so many taxis. 

Beren has been here a few times before. He knows that this is where Pickles the Cat and Jenny Linsky, two cat characters in a beloved book - School For Cats - are from. He knows New York City is where our Zabar's mug came from. He also knows this is where Papa grew up and lived before he knew Momma. The latter fact elicits a smile of disbelief from Beren.

Along one of the avenues on the west side, a muni-meter declined our credit card. We sought $3.50 in change from nearby stores. This amount would cover the one hour limit. One store had no cash register (really?). The other could not open the register without a sale. I glanced around at wares in the high-end tea shop and down at my twenty dollar bill. "Sorry," the clerk said. "It's just the way we do it here. Perhaps because we usually have so little change anyway. I'm sorry." I frowned at looked at my obviously hungry child. "It's ok."

Back outside in the rain, I called 311, listened and responded to the prompts, and finally reached a person. "I've tried two credit cards. Both were declined. I know they're fine." The line went dead. I turned towards Jared and Beren who huddled under an awning to keep dry. Beren was crying. 

"You and Beren go to Zabar's. I'll park the truck," said Jared. What a dad thing to do, I thought. Not bad. "OK, great. We'll order something for you."

Jared was back before I placed our order. "I found a spot. First I was waved away from a full parking deck, and then I felt I was owed a spot. It's just a block and a half away. No meter." Super dad.

Once our food was ready, we sat elbow to elbow at the counter. All realms were represented. One woman was dressed in traditional Dutch costume, including wooden clogs. One man pulled a small amplifier up to his chair. Another woman was from Vancouver. She chatted amiably to us and passed us a handful of napkins. Minutes later she mentioned her recent recovery from pneumonia. "I'm drinking lots of tea,"she said and covered her mouth to emit a crackling cough. "Do you want more of sandwich, Beren?" Jared asked. "Let's get out of here," he then whispered to me.

On the street, "Pneumonia?! We have to wash our hands!" Jared said. Indeed, it's a been a long autumn of respiratory based colds. No need to add pneumonia. 

We passed a panhandler. Jared wondered how they fared. "Do people carry change anymore? Or just iPads and credit cards?" 

With no destination, we decided to visit some of Jared's old haunts, including the alcove of the apartment Jared lived in when he was Beren's age. "The Fallout Shelter sign is still there," Jared said. 

We crossed the street into Riverside Park. A group of masonry workers passed us, and I heard one say something about, "stinkle berries." I think he meant gingko.

Notoriously stinky fruit of the common urban tree, gingko. I've used powdered autumn leaves of gingko in herbal candies for memory.

"I used to ride sleds down this hill," Jared said. "What's down at the bottom?" Beren asked. A playground where Jared spent many, many happy hours as a kid.

Feeding the "Momma" hippo autumn leaves. "She's hungry. Let's put more in." The hippos are new and so is most of the playground, Jared tells us.

 Puddle stomping at the Soldier and Sailor's Memorial

"What's this place?" Beren asked. I said nothing. It's something we're very lucky to know little about first hand, I thought, and we continued down Riverside Drive.