It's wild to think about the sights and sounds and experiences I have become so accustomed to living in New York City, even wilder to think about leaving them. One day I left the Horticultural Society of New York when they were still in that cavernous space on 58th Street. It was probably an interview, which would take the scene back almost ten years. From there I had nothing else on the agenda so I decided to stroll Central Park. Like most new to the city I would get terribly turned around, but I wasn't concerned. I knew I could figure out where I had to get to by that point in order to get back to safety, at that time a tiny room share in Park Slope. I was already used to walking a lot, and this afternoon I walked for a long time. Eventually I would end up in an alien land. I stumbled upon a fenced-in formal garden I didn't even know existed. I climbed stairs and found myself under a breathtaking wrought iron pergola covered in wisteria. It was summer or early fall so the park was rich in green, new growth. Giving my legs a break I would sit for a few and watch a gardener carefully pruning back the aged wisteria with a pole pruner. He seemed at peace. Carefully snipping the unwanted new shoots I would remember thinking to myself, "gosh, if I had a job like that I could last in this city a long time". This was on the heels of being at a party at my brothers apartment in Brooklyn and a friend of his recommending that I "just give the city ten years and see how you feel", a suggestion that seemed like pure lunacy to this young surf kid from a small ocean town. Sure enough nearly ten years would pass. I would learn the man I saw that afternoon was a gentleman named Paul Serra, Assistant Curator at the Conservatory Garden there in the north end of Central Park. (My walk had apparently taken me from the base of the park at 59th Street all the way up to 105th Street on the east side). Paul and I would not only get to know each other but would become good friends and colleagues tending to the Conservatory Garden under the direction of Curator Diane Schaub and Director Lynden Miller. I would get my chance to have an "office" most people would die for. And as my dear friend Diane would compliment, I would share some of my best years with that garden. I learned to love and respect the garden and the park and those that tend to it in such a caring and selfless way. Doug Blonsky, the President of the Central Park Conservancy, the organization that maintains the park for the city of New York through a model public-private partnership, himself wastes no time calling his horticulture staff the ambassadors to the park. After years I would learn how right he is, and how proud I am to say I am one of those ambassadors.
This week was a major week. Only a couple months ago we began the search for a home, a real house, and yard. Thanks to all the right people being in our corner we found a house that seemed perfect. We said "why not" and put in a bid, and to our amazement the back and forth happened quickly, and in our favor. All of a sudden the question of whether this might be the year we get out of the city became the question of how soon might we get out of the city, no "if" about it. We put out feelers on the work front and crossed our fingers. Hard work, it would turn out, had once again paid off as calls quickly led to conversations which led to setting up meetings. Our house bid was accepted, confirming we are buying our first home. Interviews were set, letting us know that we have the skills to take the show on the road. I would pause and look up to get caught by the morning sun as it narrowed through the buildings along Fifth Avenue and shot in to spotlight the wisteria covered pergola in the middle of the Conservatory Garden. It's these moments that make you stop for a sec, to behold the beauty of the here and now. Maybe it's a sight you have seen a thousand times before, but you never saw it like this before. Or maybe it's like you are seeing it for the first time, all over again. It's the exploration and adventure that will ensue that you don't even know yet. You will remember this place and time. The next challenge begins. With great admiration and respect you get a deeper glimpse into who you are and where you are going based on where you came from, and all of those steps along the way. The pergola and the wisteria, the tiers of spirea and yew, you have been so good to me.