The Conservatory Gardens

September 26, 2009

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On Thursday afternoons I get off from work at 1.30 and I have designated the afternoon as a “Sabbath Day” where I don’t schedule any events or friends, but spend some good quality time alone, in meditation and study, and in prayer. I often go to a park and enjoy the nature, with a cup of tea and a cookie, my diary and some good reading material.

I recently rediscovered the Conservatory Gardens, up on 5th Avenue and 105th Street. They have become my new favourite garden in the City. Located at the north end of Central Park, you pass through an ornate set of gates into a heavenly world of slate stone paths and English country garden loveliness. Flowers spill over borders in waves of texture and colour, breezy statues of children playing drip with the laughter of the fountains, and for a moment the buses rolling by on the avenue are drowned out by the chatter of insects and birds. A tremendous trellis of vines arcs across the western side of the garden, beckoning you to come find solace beneath it. The first time I came to the gardens, four years ago, was with a now very distant boyfriend, to attend a wedding ceremony. I will never forget that evening, the beginnings of a rain storm trickling down through the leaves of the trellis, the sky grey yet bright, and the bride and groom glowing at each other as we all stood around cheering. What a wonderful place to start a marriage.
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My current Thursday ritual is to stop in a the Museum of the City of New York, which is across the street, tease the guards to let me down into the café where I then buy a fruit tea and a giant black and white cookie to take with me to the garden. After a leisurely stroll around the grounds, with frequent stops to sigh into the welcoming faces of upturned flowers, I settle myself into a bench for some blissful quiet.

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I love black and white cookies. The cookie is light and cakey, and the white glaze on the back is crisp and smooth and just a bit too sweet. The chocolate has a bitter bite to it, with a faint flavour of licorice in each bite. I take much comfort in eating this cookie slowly, bit by bit, letting the glaze melt in my mouth, not taking any one morsel for granted, washing down the sweetness with sips of tea. It is a large cookie so if you eat it too fast, you will ruin the experience with a sugar rush. I think because my favourite desserts tend to involve cake of some sort, that the black and white is one of the most perfect cookies imagined. And it is so New York.

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3 Responses to “The Conservatory Gardens”

  1. Hansen Says:

    Wow, I didn’t know this treasure was in Central Park—or maybe I did; I think my cousin had her wedding photos taken here. Anyway, glad you’re getting some respite and getting to the Museum of the City of New York too—have you seen the Mannahatta exhibit? I’ve been meaning to go.

  2. brownstonebaking Says:

    I haven’t gone to the Mannahatta exhibit yet. Maybe we should coordinate a trip to the Museum and then the Gardens. I confess, I’ve only gone into the Museum for their black and white cookies and tea and haven’t seen a show there yet…

  3. Lori Says:

    Ruth, this is my favorite post on your blog. 🙂


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