Hearing The Call To Rescue

Lately, I have wondered if I am paying the price for abusing my sense of hearing all of these years. I simply do not hear as well as I used to. FD has the same problem, and most of the time we either do not hear what the other has said, or we do not hear it correctly. Sometimes it is frustrating, but other times we laugh heartily at the ridiculousness of what we thought the other said.  Still, I have found it disheartening to have to ask people to repeat themselves, and often I move my line of vision to their lips, in order to assure I might also lip-read what is being said.

Because of this, I find myself telling nieces and nephews and other young people not to crank the music up in their car, or to be sure to protect their ears during a concert. Firing guns or subjecting ears to various loud stimulus are destructive actions that rob us of the longevity of our ability to hear. I remember my nearly deaf grandmother preaching these same warnings to me – but did I listen? Sadly, I was at that age where I knew I was invincible and that Grandma was simply overly worrisome.

While sitting on the back porch last night, I found myself thankful that at least my hearing was still good enough to hear the evening noises of nature. The cicada’s were buzzing and the cardinal’s chirped the last calls of the evening. I heard a dove or two take off from nearby trees, noting the sharp whistling noise their wings make as they take flight. As I took in the evening sounds, I kept my eyes on the canyon below, hoping to see Spirit deer. It had been two days since I had seen her come for feed and water, and I was a little worried that she had not been around lately. I hoped all was well with her new fawn, and that Spirit herself was doing fine.

Suddenly, I heard a strange and loud noise of clawing on metal. I knew immediately it was coming from the downspout at the back steps. Apparently, something had crawled into the metal tubing. Since it was just beginning to get dark, I ran inside for a flashlight. When I came back out and shined my flashlight inside the downspout, I found out that, sure enough, it was a box turtle inside, apparently seeking shelter. But if you ask me, a downspout is not a very good idea for a hideaway and, if I was going to be able to help the little fella, I would have to snake my hand around a lot of well-established honeysuckle vine just to get to the downspout opening. Somehow, I managed to get my hand in the opening of the rain spout and I pulled, but Mr. Turtle was not budging. In fact, the clawing ensued and before long he had worked his way past the bend in the downspout. After burying himself fully out of my reach, I listened to the clawing for about another twenty minutes before I finally decided he really needed to come out of the tubing.

Now with renewed determination, I tapped around until I found Mr. Turtle’s location, which was more than three feet up the downspout by this time. I removed three screws and then realized I would have to go around the back of the honeysuckle and tangle with the nearby climbing rose bush to pull the metal tubing loose. What bothered me most about the maneuvers I would have to make to remove the lower portion of the downspout, was that I would have to disturb a beautiful female garden orb spider who had set up her web between the two plants more than a week ago. But, after a little shooing her just a bit, she moved away on her own and I pulled the plants back and reached my hand over to the tubing and jiggled the section loose.

With the turtle’s hideaway now firmly in my hand, I tapped the downspout piece on the ground, but Mr. Turtle remained lodged in his spot inside the tubing. Trying once again – tap, tap, tap – still no turtle fell out. Not having any luck jarring him loose, I shone my flashlight down the shaft of the downspout to see what the problem might be. With the aid of my flashlight, I soon discovered that Mr. Turtle was stuck between two screws. Once I removed the screws and gently tapped the spout on the ground one more time, he plopped out on his back, eyes closed as if he was preparing for the worst. Of course, I quickly set him upright and he took off for the protection of my basil patch. I don’t believe I have ever seen a turtle move that fast!

Box Turtle in Downspout_0296 Box Turtle_0297

Fortunately, I did manage a few poor night shots of Mr. Turtle with my iPhone during the extraction. When I downloaded all the photos from my iPhone to my computer, I noticed a shot of a juvenile raptor that I had photographed a few weeks ago with the turtle photos. “Jeez,” I thought, I had completely forgotten about that little fellow.

Eyes closed as he plopped out of the downspout, the box turtle must have been bracing for the worst!

Eyes closed as he plopped out of the downspout, the box turtle must have been bracing for the worst!

The raptor came my way when I got a call early one morning about a young hawk that was injured and had not eaten in two days. The caller said that the hawk had a problem with one of his wings, but FD and I could not find anything amiss with either wing. Still, the mere fact that he had not eaten for a few days was a concern. Considering his dehydrated and emaciated condition, we decided I would transport him to WildCare – a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility about seventy miles from here. There, expert staff could look him over and give him the food and care he needed.

Leaving my morning tasks for later, I loaded the hawk (or whatever he was) into the car and took off for WildCare. I looked to the back seat as I pulled out of the driveway and onto the street, to make sure my little charge was riding comfortably. His reply was to open his beak and fluff his feathers, an obvious attempt to appear scary. Well, it worked on me, and I was glad he was in a cage, as he was not friendly looking at all.

After traveling about twenty miles down the road, I did not have to wonder what kind of bird he was anymore. While doing a little meditative thinking as the miles ticked by, I found myself in a place of deep and pleasant thought when, all of a sudden, the high-pitched whistle of “PHEE! PHEW!” shattered the silence in the car, and nearly gave me a heart attack! I am not sure how long it took me to gather my wits… a few seconds perhaps, but I knew at once that what I was hearing was the call of a Mississippi Kite. These birds of prey fly above our home all spring and summer. After recovering from my initial shock, I looked back again to see my little charge doing very well. This time, seeming rather proud and confident, he did not fluff up his feathers and open his beak in another attempt to try to scare me off.

Who knew this cute little guy was capable of an ear-splitting scream? But then again, he is a juvenile!

Who knew this cute little guy was capable of an ear-splitting scream? But then again, he is a juvenile!

After another short five miles, my passenger screamed out once again. This time, however, it was six consecutive whistles. Adjusting my rear view mirror so I had my friend in clear view, I announced that that would be quite enough of that nonsense.  But only a mile more down the road, he began to let out several more loud whistles, and he did not stop. After a bit, I began to laugh. His whistle sounded as if he was saying, “THANK you, THANK you, THANK you”. So, for the next forty miles, I endured the ear-splitting call of the Mississippi Kite from the up-close-and-personal distance of the back seat of my car. To deal with his noise, I carried on conversation with him, saying it was entirely my pleasure to transport him, but would he please stop thanking me. But, like a rebellious juvenile, he insisted in continuing to lustily sing out his praises!

To hear the whistle of the Mississippi Kite for yourself, click on the sound audio at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

I am sure I have never experienced anything like that before. Hearing the actual call of the Mississippi Kite not three feet from me, and feeling the vibration and energy of such a powerful bird so close, I know I am a fairly fortunate person. He was such a magnificent bird! I am not sure, however, that all of that whistling did my ears much good, but I must say, I think that young kite really enjoyed the ride… and paid his fare by putting on quite a lovely concert!

© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

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This Was Not Supposed To Happen…

For the last couple of weeks, I have had so many topics for blog posts running through my head that I wanted to write after the New York City series, that I have been itching to get on the computer and let my fingers fly. My mind has been so full of new ideas, recent happenings, and other updates, that I have not been able to get through a simple, little task or chore around here without thinking about the next post. Would I write about all of that roasted tomato sauce I had been mass producing for weeks now? Or should my first post be an update on Daisy and her twins?  Plus, I have all of these photographs from weeks past that I want to share. But then yesterday evening, a new topic came to the forefront.

It seemed to be a hard summer for Spirit, being driven from her mother in May, then heat and pestilence in the woodlands. Spirit looks a bit rough around the edges.

Spirit looks a bit rough around the edges. It seemed to be a hard summer for her, having been driven from her mother in May, then dealing with heat and pestilence on her own in the woodlands.

While I was preparing dinner, FD came in the kitchen announcing that Spirit, Daisy deer’s fawn from last year, was at the feeder and he was going to take some cherry tomatoes down to toss to her. I replied that was great and it would be at least thirty minutes until dinner anyway. We had been seeing Spirit a good bit lately, as she had been trying to get back in Daisy’s fold by hanging around hoping her mother would allow her to stay. At first, when her twins were still small, Daisy did not want Spirit anywhere around at all. She would run Spirit off every time she came near, sending her deep into the woods.  But over the last three weeks, Daisy has been allowing Spirit to tag along with them. Once able to get close to them, Spirit was very curious about the new babies, and it did not take long for her to accept them. And the twins seemed to enjoy having a big sister, often following Spirit around in the evenings. Spirit seemed content to be back with her mother and, one day, I even noticed Spirit babysitting her siblings. Seeing this brought back memories of when Daisy was a yearling and I would observe her down in the bottom, near the old water tub, watching a fawn or two that belonged to Scarlet, a doe from the local herd. Now, seeing Spirit doing the babysitting, I was convinced it must be a common practice for does to allow yearlings to babysit their older fawns.

Laying in the deer plot FD planted for the deer this spring, Spirit looks after her siblings while Daisy is off in the nearby pecan orchard.

Lying in the food plot FD planted for the deer this spring, Spirit looks after her siblings while Daisy is off in the nearby pecan orchard.

Spirit is alone with her siblings after a morning outing in the pecan orchard.

Spirit is alone with her siblings after a morning outing in the pecan orchard.

With Spirit back in the fold, FD and I had the opportunity to observe her from close distance, and I had a growing concern about Spirit. She had not looked well to me. She was generally bedraggled, her mid section was very large and odd looking, and she seemed tired. My first thought – always one of worry – was that she might have a tumor or something else wrong with her. But, she was likely getting plenty to eat, as it had been a very good year for vegetation with so many welcome rains. And of course, we also keep high-protein deer chow, corn, and fresh water down at the bottom of the slope. Still, she did not look well to me at all. I mentioned something to FD about my concern, and he agreed that she looked unusually large in the belly, even compared to Daisy. He suggested the possibility that she could have come into estrus late, which would make for an unusually late pregnancy for a deer, but we discounted this idea after we looked at her rear end. There was no sign that her udder was filling with milk.

Daisy loves to go to her old deer pen most evenings. We still have a nice stand of clover, lambsquarter, spurge, chickory and a few other "weeds" that the deer love to munch on!

Daisy loves to go to her old deer pen most evenings. We still have a nice stand of clover, lambsquarter, spurge, chicory and a few other “weeds” that the deer love to munch on!

So, back to last night. When FD returned to the kitchen shortly after he had gone off to toss some cherry tomatoes to Spirit, I was a bit surprised at his demeanor. He looked very serious, only saying, “Come outside with me. I want you to look at something”. I looked back at him quizzically, let him know I was in the middle of cooking, and asked if it could wait. But again, this time with a bit more urgency, he stated, “I really need you to look at this”. So, now fraught with worry, I quickly turned off the stove burners and wiped my hands. All I could think of, was that something bad had happened to Spirit.

The last photograph of Daisy looking unwell - FD was throwing her cherry tomatoes which she loved to gobble up!

The last photograph of Spirit looking unwell – FD was tossing her cherry tomatoes which she loved to gobble up – but now was only interested in two or three.

Slim Spirit_7017

The slim and, though still a bit rough around the edges, glossy-coated Spirit with a voracious appetite!

I did not even make it off the porch before I saw what FD wanted me to see. I stared in disbelief and, though I knew exactly what had happened, I did not want to believe it. FD looked at me and said that he had not even been sure, when he first saw her, that it was Spirit. But, with no sign of alarm after talking to her and beginning to walk towards her as she drank from the water tub, it was obvious that this was, indeed, Spirit. So, while I scrambled to put shoes on, I asked FD to fetch the camera and we walked down the slope together, still in disbelief at what we saw… or rather what we did not see! Our big-bellied, yearling granddeer, that had looked so tired and unwell, was suddenly slender and sporting a voracious appetite! As I moved around with the camera, I only managed to get a couple of shots of Spirit’s newly expanded udder and extended nipples that had obviously been suckled. Spirit was a mother!

It is quite apparent someone is nursing these days... that udder wasn't there just a few days ago!

It is quite apparent someone is nursing these days… that udder wasn’t there just a few days ago!

FD and I talked about how this must have happened. Spirit would have conceived in late January or sometime in early February, long after the normal rut of November, and even after the “second rut” which occurs in December when the un-bred does of the first rut come into estrus once again. For Spirit’s pregnancy to have happened, which it obviously did, a buck would still have to have hard antlers and enough testosterone to be interested in a doe in estrus. FD thought back to an evening this winter when he had seen a buck chasing Spirit down the slope near our pool. Daisy, who we felt had been bred back in November, was alongside Spirit that night, but the buck’s interests were clearly focused on Spirit. Apparently, Spirit was healthy enough to have started estrus, even though it was very late in the season for a buck to be interested.

Just as we had witnessed with Daisy the year she birthed Spirit and Rowdy, Spirit now displayed an urgency to eat quickly and get back to wherever it was her baby was hidden. But, before she could finish eating, Daisy and the twins showed up. Though Spirit still cowered from Daisy, she had no desire to deal with her siblings and quickly hoofed poor Heidi away from the feed pan. This must have been confusing to Heidi, as her sister, who had been so fun to hang around with, was now on the warpath! This behavior too, was something we had witnessed with Daisy as a new mother, and now Spirit had that “Mama attitude”. There was a new confidence about her and she was ready and willing to defend her “nursery” territory.

Spirit is still a yearling herself (just 14 months old) and this being her first birthing she tore a bit. Normally a doe has a singlet the first time, but as you all know, her mother Daisy had twins the first time!

Spirit is still a yearling herself (just 14 months old) and, being her first birthing, she tore a bit. Normally, a new mother has a singlet but, as you all know, her mother Daisy had twins the first time!

Back in the house, I finished preparing dinner but could not take my mind off of Spirit and her newborn fawn. At least in Oklahoma, I thought, this baby  stands a chance of surviving the winter if we do not endure unusually harsh temperatures and weather conditions. I wondered if Spirit would come into season again during the November rut, if she had finished nursing this fawn by then. Ultimately, I knew that nature would take care of things, and there was nothing my worrying would help or solve. Moreover, it was clear that Spirit was nursing and was in “protective mama” mode. She looked healthy. And she had trotted back west into the woods with urgency. It was her first time for motherhood, but what did I really know of nature and its ways? Perhaps it would all be just fine.

Of course, there I was this morning, out in the woods enduring the sweltering heat and mosquitoes, hoping to capture a photo of my first great-granddeer! But I know it may be a while before I get that photograph. The woods are still too lush with poison ivy, brambles, and slithering snakes for me to venture very deeply into them but, by golly, I will keep watch! And, as Daisy did with Spirit and Rowdy, and Heidi and Dancer, Spirit will bring her fawn around when the time is right… or could there be two… hmm…

We see Spirit at the feed bucket and corn feeder throughout the day. A nursing mother needs good nutrition!

We see Spirit at the feed bucket and corn feeder throughout the day. A nursing mother needs good nutrition!

© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

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New York City… A Birthday To Remember

I awoke early in the morning on our last full day in New York City, and opened the room shades to find another sunny and mild day. The weather had been near perfect the entire trip, and today looked like it would be no exception. I was also feeling excited that tonight Emily would perform at Carnegie Hall in the Middle School Honors Performance Series. After all, this was the reason we had come to New York City in the first place, and it was going to be a great evening spent with family in a grand and historic theater. I was excited for another reason too… this was my birthday! It is not every day a girl gets to celebrate her special day in such a magnificent city.

Chris, Jules, and Sid had been downstairs to have an early breakfast and would soon be on their way to visit Emily. But first, Jules had to make another run to the Rite Aid Pharmacy to find different medication for Emily, whose cough and chest congestion seemed worse. With all this going on Saturday morning, FD and I opted to have my birthday breakfast at nearby Applejack Diner, where we managed an outdoor table so I could enjoy more people watching. While I checked out the passersby, FD kept busy on his iPhone looking for area shoe stores. He was bound and determined to find me some comfortable birthday shoes to wear with my new, black birthday dress we had purchased before we left on our trip.

I did bring plenty of shoes with me, but not all were comfortable to wear for endless hours walking on pavement. I realized much too late that I should have listened to my friend Ruthie, who helped me do some shopping for this trip not long after we decided to go. While shopping with Ruthie, I found a pair of sandals that felt like heaven – they were so comfortable and stylish. Ruthie suggested I buy a pair of the light brown and also a pair of black. But, practical me, I talked myself out of the black ones because I had other black sandals. And now, I was kicking myself for not buying them. The brown pair had been so comfortable that I wore them almost every day when we hit the streets of New York. Being light brown, however, they were somewhat wardrobe-limiting. So, FD was bound and determined that we should look for some comfortable, black sandals as a gift for my birthday.

Emily was in good spirit despite feeling a bit punk the morning of the performance.

Emily was in good spirits despite feeling a bit punk the morning of the performance.

After having a scrumptious birthday breakfast at the Applejack Diner, we walked to an eatery across from The Roosevelt Hotel to meet up with the rest of the family. There, we were pleased to see that Emily looked bright and happy despite battling chest congestion and a slight cough. Still, she decided to forego the sightseeing outing with her peers and, instead, head back to our hotel to rest up for her performance that evening. This would also allow plenty of time for Jules to prepare Emily’s hair for the event.

As for FD and I, I can tell you our mission to find sandals was not an easy one.  In New York City, rivaling Paris as the world’s leading fashion Mecca, you would think I could find what I was looking for. But as we shopped along Times Square and down into the Garment District and even into the Greenwich Village area, we found that most stores were already displaying fall and winter styles, and had put summer stock on sale. As a result, anything I did find to my liking was no longer available in my size.

By the time we located a store that finally had exactly what I was looking for, it was late afternoon and we realized we would have to dash back to the hotel to begin getting ready for Carnegie Hall, and grab a quick bite to eat along the way. Since we were short of time, we decided to have my “birthday dinner” at our favorite neighborhood hangout, The House of Brews. Every meal we had eaten there during the week was delicious, and the prices were reasonable as well. Once seated, we explained we were in a hurry and the food arrived pronto!

Back at the hotel after dinner, we realized we had very little time to change clothes and freshen up as Jules, Chris and Sid were ready to head to Carnegie Hall. Normally, I would have taken time to fuss over my hair and makeup, but there would be no tarrying tonight. Carnegie Hall waits for no one!

Rather than hassle with a train, we decided to walk to Carnegie Hall since it was only about six blocks from our hotel. We had made this trek many times on foot with no problem, and it would surely save us cab fare. But before we could get out of the hotel, the shoe saga began again! Jules suddenly realized she would never make the six blocks in her heels. To remedy this, she finally decided to ditch her small, evening purse and carry the heels in her regular, black purse. That way, she could wear comfortable shoes to walk to Carnegie Hall and simply slip on her heels before we got to the entry. Then, if this was not enough already, about halfway to the theater, FD admits his dress shoes are killing his right foot. Apparently, he had not worn this particular pair of shoes for extensive walking, but only to fancy events where he was not so active.

Sid holds the three re-printed tickets, which Carnegie Hall staff were very kind about replacing. The original tickets were still back in Nebraska on the bedroom dresser!

Sid holds the three re-printed tickets, which Carnegie Hall staff were very kind about replacing. The original tickets were still back in Nebraska on the bedroom dresser!

The entrance and lobby of Carnegie Hall was vastly impressive, with marble pillars, high ceilings, and beautiful gold leafing. The staff there was welcoming, but informed us we had arrived a bit early to collect three of our tickets from the Will Call window. Ideally, this would not have been a necessary step in our process but, on the day they arrived in NYC, Jules suddenly realized she had forgotten to pack their Carnegie Hall tickets! Since I had purchased the lot of tickets for our group, I called to inquire what could be done about this. The agent on the line assured me there would be no trouble getting replacements at the box office on the day of the performance. Sure enough, the tickets were waiting for us once the Will Call window opened and Jules, who had been mortified by the whole event, was finally able to calm down and enjoy herself!

With replacement tickets in hand, we entered the Citi Cafe area of Carnegie Hall which, along with The Rose Museum, had opened about fifteen minutes before we were allowed to be seated in the Stern Auditorium. Jules, Sid, and I found a table, while FD and Chris secured some refreshment to help calm our nerves. I found it extremely exciting to be in such a grand old theater! The Italian Renaissance design made for an elegance I had seldom experienced in my life. Jules, as well, was completely taken aback by the grandeur of the setting and venue. After all, this was truly Jule’s night to shine, as she was the proud mother of a performer. I was so happy for her to have this experience!

FD and I enjoy a Cabernet at the Citi Cafe inside Carnegie Hall.

FD and I enjoy a Cabernet at the Citi Cafe inside Carnegie Hall.

I cannot express what I felt when we were finally able to enter the Stern Auditorium. There are some experiences in life that one simply “feels”, but cannot find adequate words to describe them and, for me, this was one of those experiences. The auditorium was absolutely stunning! I noted many of the same looks of amazement and delight upon the faces of the people I observed filing in to the grand room to find their seats. I wondered where these people had come from and how many were just like us – experiencing New York City for the first time? I felt fortunate to have such a spectacular view of the stage from our seats on the first tier of a five-level curvilinear seating area and, as the lights dimmed and the middle school children walked on to the stage, I was not sure what to expect next. I was, however, sure that the energy in the room was highly charged!

There were three groups performing that evening, with each playing five numbers. The first group was choir and the second was orchestra. Emily’s band group would be the last to perform. Having attended a few of her local school band recitals in the past, I was not quite prepared to hear voices and music as beautiful and moving as what came from that grand stage. These were just middle school kids, but what I observed and heard this night were professionals. All performers were highly skilled and polished, and the crowd clapped wildly after each number. It was almost unbelievable that these young people could be so talented.

As I watched Emily through my theater binoculars (a birthday gift from FD a few years back when he took me to a concert!), I realized I was seeing a young woman of discipline and confidence diligently playing her clarinet. I thought about what a diverse young lady she had become – flying planes and helicopters, learning to drive a vehicle, babysitting for friends, participating in softball, working a summer job detasseling corn, writing stories, and still finding time to practice the many instruments she plays. At that moment, I had never been so proud to be her Auntie. And, listening to my niece perform music with about a hundred other kids her age, under the direction of a famous conductor, I felt extremely thrilled to be sitting in this magnificent theater on my birthday. I might as well have just won the lottery.

I took this photo of Chris and Jules just after the performance. The background shows the elegance of the auditorium. The acoustics were outstanding as well.

I took this photo of Chris and Jules just after the performance. The background shows the elegance of the auditorium. The acoustics were outstanding as well.

Emily poses for a photo before heading off to the performance.

Emily poses for a photo before heading off to the performance.

A group photo from our perch on the first level of seating inside Stern Auditorium.

A group photo from our perch on the first level of seating inside Stern Auditorium.

Sunday morning, our last in The Big Apple, FD and I had an early breakfast downstairs, then dashed back upstairs to get packed. Our flight out of LaGuardia was not until late morning, but we were anxious to secure a cab to make sure we arrived at the airport in plenty of time. Jule’s family was flying back to Omaha later in the day and would spend time doing a little shopping for Em and Sid before heading to the airport themselves. After their trip to Yankee Stadium Friday night, I was not fretting or worrying about leaving them behind in New York City. That trip showed me they would be just fine without us.

Looking out the window of the cab as we wound our way through city streets and eventually to FDR Drive along the East River, I knew FD and I would return to New York City one day. Perhaps it would be to celebrate another birthday or memorable occasion. Thinking of this, I looked down at the new, black leather birthday sandals I was wearing and smiled – these would be a little memory of our trip that I would wear with my new summer dresses.

We had enjoyed a grand week in the big town, but I was happy and excited to be heading home to Oklahoma to return to my small-town life. I looked forward to settling back into the day’s work and my regular routine. Soon, my birthday sandals would come off, and I would put on those dusty work boots of mine and feel the comfort they brought me… and I would be grateful for my farm girl life.

© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 

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New York City… Picking Up The Pace

My best piece of advice for survival in New York City would be a comfortable pair of shoes that offer support and have good traction. I would love to know how many miles we pounded out on the pavement each day during our visit. FD’s arches ached each evening when we returned to our hotel room. Sid’s feet hurt too. Jules was having lower back spasms by day four. It seemed we were all beginning to notice the wear and tear of picking up the pace with our sightseeing. And to boot, there was some kind of virus going around. It started out with a sore throat and cough. By Thursday, all but FD, our fearless leader, were feeling a bit under the weather. Thankfully, we had a Rite Aid Pharmacy just across the street and their staff was friendly and helpful. But despite feeling a bit punk, we forged forth with our daily plans. No bug was going to keep us from exploring Manhattan!

Thursday morning we slowed our pace a bit and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.  Our first plan of the day was to visit the American Museum of Natural History which did not open until 10:00. Still, like many other tourists, we arrived a bit early. The subway we took actually stopped at a lower entrance to the museum, which seemed very convenient. But, since we were early, we walked up the stairs and outside into the sun, only to find the doors to the main entry already piling up with people. It was also quickly becoming another humid and sweltering day with little breeze, so we finally opted to go back to the train station entry to the museum, which was at least shaded and cooler. A handful of other tourists had the same idea but, all of a sudden, a security guard yelled at us to leave and announced the museum would not open for another ten minutes. When we did not move fast enough he yelled again, this time with arms moving rapidly to indicate “Out with you all!!” At this point, I did not care how hot the sun got, I would wait outside and take my chances getting admission tickets with a friendly person at the front entry.

For four hours, we toured parts of the American Museum of Natural History, each of us going our own way. It was a huge place where one must pick and choose areas of interest because it would be impossible to see it all in one day. FD and I were interested in mammals and birds, dinosaurs, and earth and space. Mostly though, after shuffling and stopping to read exhibits and ooh and ahh at the wonders of the past, our backs and feet were telling us it was time to move a little faster. Finally, our bodies decided we had had enough and pushed us to get on with the day and see the other attractions we planned to visit.

 

The stunning One World Trade Center towered high above all other skyscrapers in Manhattan.

The stunning One World Trade Center towered high above all other skyscrapers in Manhattan.

The area of the 9/11 Memorial Park is still being rebuilt and repaired. While the noise of construction clamored away, hundreds of people stood somberly in respect of those who lost their lives.

The area of the 9/11 Memorial Park is still being rebuilt and repaired. While the noise of construction clamored away, hundreds of people stood somberly in respect of those who lost their lives.

Jules and Sid stop to read a brochure about the 9/11 Memorial Park and Museum.

Jules and Sid stop to read a brochure about the 9/11 Memorial Park and Museum.

Back on the subway, we traveled on to Lower Manhattan. Our next stop was the One World Trade Center. The new building is a combination of modern and contemporary architecture. After spending a short time admiring and photographing this magnificent piece of architecture, we walked a short distance further to visit the nearby 9/11 Memorial. When we arrived at the twin reflecting pools, we quietly stood in awe. At nearly an acre in size each, the two pools sit in the space where each of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center once stood. These deep pools are surrounded by the largest man-made waterfalls in North America, and are quite a sight to see. The names of those who died in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993 are inscribed into bronze panels edging both pools. Though hundreds of people were milling about and nearby construction noise filled the streets, there was a general solemnity and respectfulness of those who came to visit. One could see in the eyes of each of us who stood at the Memorial, a reflection of something personal, remembering those dark days.

After viewing each memorial pool, we stopped briefly to peer in the windows of the newly opened 9/11 Museum before moving on. I had not managed to secure tickets in advance to this popular exhibition. Tickets were booked up for nearly two weeks, though we were told one could wait in line, as it was common for tickets to be available throughout the day. But we had too much to see yet, and waiting in line in the sweltering humidity was not very appealing to any of us.

There were many beautiful churches and cathedrals in Lower Manhattan. Trinity Church is known for its historic cemetery and beautiful landscaping.

There were many beautiful churches and cathedrals in Lower Manhattan. Trinity Church is known for its historic cemetery and beautiful landscaping.

I found this interesting! Apparently there is a bird problem in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. In many tall archways, fake owls (not unlike my bobble head Mr. Owl here on our little ranch) adorned the entryways to scare off smaller birds. This particular entryway also had a screeching owl noise emitting from speakers every few seconds. I did not see any nests or bird droppings so this clever idea must work!

I found this interesting! Apparently there is a bird problem in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. In many tall archways, fake owls (not unlike my bobble head Mr. Owl here on our little ranch) adorned the entryways to scare off smaller birds. This particular entryway also had a screeching owl noise emitting from speakers every few seconds. I did not see any nests or bird droppings so this clever idea must work!

After a short jaunt to the east, we walked past the New York Stock Exchange and around the corner to take in the famous Charging Bull of Wall Street. Lots of people were crowded around to touch the bull sculpture for good luck and take photographs. Apparently, it was quite popular to have oneself photographed while touching the, uh, testicles of the bull, especially if you were of the female gender. Women and girls of all ages and sizes gathered around the south end of the bull as if flocking to get an autograph and photo of some movie star. Jules and I just snickered about all that, as we needed to take no such photograph. Being farm girls, we had seen plenty of real bulls in our time and had a good chuckle together, knowing the proportional relationship of the testicles on this mammoth bull would have made him the laughingstock among all of the cows in the pasture – they were a wee bit small for his size.

South Street Seaport area.

South Street Seaport area.

Our next plan was to meander through the South Street Seaport area and then on to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. Had we taken a better look at the map and researched our route better, we would have realized the difficulty in getting to the Brooklyn Bridge going that far east. To boot, it was late afternoon and the Seaport area was feeling a bit creepy. Overall, not many people were around, the area seemed gloomy, and the stench along the East River did not make us feel very safe. The closer we got to the bridge, the more apparent it was that we would have to walk back to the west quite a distance to reach the entrance of the pedestrian walkway. Fortunately, we found a series of stairs that painstakingly took us high enough to access the bridge without having to backtrack quite as far as the main entrance. Finally reaching the walkway above, we were completely exhausted from climbing the steps, but were glad to be out of the eerily quiet Seaport area and back to a more populated setting. We then began to maneuver our way up the very narrow and congested pedestrian path trying to dodge people stopping to take photographs while, at the same time, avoiding getting hit by bicyclists zooming past in the bicycle lane. I will say though, the walk was well worth the effort, as the view of Manhattan was spectacular from the Brooklyn Bridge. And the bridge itself is an architectural beauty!

I feel it is a must to walk the Brooklyn Bridge on a trip to NYC. The view of Manhattan is like no other - perhaps just a different perspective than a view from a high point. Pedestrian and Bicycle traffic is heavy much of the time and is frustrating to find a good photography point, but the experience is unique!

I feel it is a must to walk the Brooklyn Bridge on a trip to NYC. The view of Manhattan is like no other – perhaps just a different perspective than a view from a high point. Pedestrian and Bicycle traffic is heavy much of the time and it can be frustrating to find a good photography point, but the experience is unique!

Chris, FD, Jules and Sid take a break at the halfway point to marvel at the view and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Chris, FD, Jules and Sid take a break at the halfway point to marvel at the view and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Friday was a bit more relaxing, as we had a simple plan to cinch up a little sightseeing of the neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan. For the second day in a row, we did not get started out until late morning. Jules, Chris and Sid had been to the Rite Aid Pharmacy again. This time Em was not feeling well so they hurried to The Roosevelt Hotel to deliver her medicine before she had to jet off to practice. While out, they caught the end of a Fox News summer concert on the way back to the hotel. Had I known this, I would have had the television on in our room, hoping to catch a glimpse of them in the crowd.

We spent a little time at the Farmer's Market at Union Square, having a few snacks and enjoying music played by street performers.

We spent a little time at the Farmer’s Market at Union Square, having a few samples as snacks and enjoying music played by street performers.

After leaving the hotel, we took the train to the Flatiron District, and began the trek south. But before we had made it very far, Sid proclaimed his feet were already hurting. He mentioned the tread on his shoes felt “thin”. Sure enough, we all stood there staring at the soles of his shoes and it was apparent why his feet were killing him. His Nike shoes were completely shot. Done. Fini. Fortunately, a Foot Locker store was just a few doors down. Of course this meant Cha-ching! CHA-CHING! And while Sid was getting fixed up, FD found a better pair of socks that offered more support, cushion, and comfort. Finally, we were all ready to set out on foot to the neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan.

Union Square sidetracked us for a little while. A farmer’s market was set up, and musicians were playing in the square. We also stopped to sample some of the goodies being offered. FD and I were checking out the organic choices and the dairy product from grass-fed cows. I was amazed by the beautiful vegetables and fresh fruits. Most came from farms in upstate New York.  Many retired people were shopping for their weekly grocery items. Several individuals had little dogs (or big dogs) on leashes. Observing these folks, I thought about how this might not offer a better place to people watch and catch a glimpse of real New Yorkers.

These mammoth doors at Grace Church were very unusual in comparison with other cathedrals in the area.

These mammoth doors at Grace Church were very unusual in comparison with other cathedrals in the area.

Grace Church was the only historic church we really spent time poking around inside. Most churches are open to the public, but we found many were undergoing repairs either on the interior or exterior and access wasn't always available. The windows throughout Grace Church were utterly stunning.

Grace Church was the only historic church we really spent time poking around inside. Most churches are open to the public, but we found many were undergoing repairs either on the interior or exterior and access wasn’t always available. The windows throughout Grace Church were utterly stunning.

After leaving the Farmer’s Market at Union Square, we walked on through the Garment District, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Soho, and Tribeca. It was interesting to note the special feel of each region and how the architecture varied in each little community. The lingo changed from place to place, and the energy was more laid back and not so charged-up as it was in Upper Manhattan and Midtown.

At Chinatown, I knew what to expect, for I had been to Chinatown in other large cities. If anything, Chinatown in New York City is much crazier! Personally, I do not like the noise, congestion of both people and vehicle traffic, or the smells of Chinatown. It is more about having the experience for me and there is an exhilarating energy that comes with the culture. While we walked, I snapped photos of the rest of the group who were seeing Chinatown for the first time, and I have to admit those are some of the funniest pictures I took on the trip! The wrinkled up noses as we passed by an open fish market. The looks of “leave me alone for crying out loud!” as we walked past store keepers yelling out their special discounted items. Sid kept saying, “What did they just say?” Finally, Jule’s, answered him in a frustrated tone, “Waaaaacheees! Buy Waaaaachees!”, then pointed at her wrist and said “They are saying watches!”.

This would be the stinky fish market my sister Jules had a fit over. There were flies all over the fish and the smell was very unpleasant!

This would be the stinky fish market my sister Jules had a fit over. There were flies all over the fish and the smell was very unpleasant!

Street view of Little Italy. The energy from this area was bright and happy. We found people here to be very welcoming and pleasant. Prices were very reasonable at the few shops we stopped by.

Street view of Little Italy. The energy from this area was bright and happy. We found people here to be very welcoming and pleasant. Prices were very reasonable at the few shops we stopped by.

Sid and Jules_6428

Sid and Jules make a stop for some homemade Italian gelato. It appears there are way too many choices!

At Little Italy we enjoyed lunch at Da Nico. We found prices to be very reasonable at the area shops. People were pleasant and smiles greeted us at nearly each store front. Jules and Sid had their first authentic Italian gelato and decided they loved it!

We got back to the hotel early enough for everyone to rest a bit before evening activities. Jules, Chris and Sid had managed tickets to the Yankee’s and Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium – and I was going to be worried sick until they made it back safely. All week, they had been on the train with our fearless leader guiding the way.  Now they would be on their own and would be going through a rough area to get to the stadium. FD surprised me (and kept my mind from worrying about the others) by taking me on an outing to St. Andrews Restaurant & Bar. He knew we would not have time for a lengthy and romantic dinner Saturday night, my birthday, so we would celebrate a day early. The dinner was scrumptious! Our waiter was knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. There had not been one place in New York City where we weren’t pleased with food, and St. Andrews was no exception. For the most part, staff at restaurants were always pleasant and efficient.

The Empire State Building  lit up in beautiful rainbow colors in celebration of NYC Pride Week and in commemoration of the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Riots, which are credited with launching the modern gay rights movement in 1969.

The Empire State Building lit up in beautiful rainbow colors in celebration of NYC Pride Week and in commemoration of the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Riots, which are credited with launching the modern gay rights movement in 1969.

After dinner we took a leisurely walk along Broadway back to our hotel.  I was truly relieved when I received several text messages from Jules with photos of the three of them enjoying themselves at the Yankees game. By the time FD and I arrived at the hotel and settled in to watch a little TV, Jules sent a text message saying that they were on the first train out of the Bronx and headed to the station near our hotel. Finally, the worry was ebbing away. I wondered, as I drifted off to sleep, would there ever be a time I could let go of worry and fretting in my life?

Note: For those of you interested in my sister Jule’s documentation of the NYC trip, her blog is Groovy Love, Scrubs & Chimichangas.

 

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