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Over 60 ... And Getting Younger: September 14, 2012

Awakening

I lived the first 27 years of my life in the Bronx. I am proud of my many years and experiences that I enjoyed in that much-maligned borough.

I attended Yankee Stadium for both football and baseball games. My public school, P.S. 50, my junior high school P.S. 98 (Herman Ridder) and James Monroe High School all provided happy and memorable experiences. I also went to the Bronx Zoo many, many times. It was always enlightening to learn about nature and the animals of our world. The steamy streets of asphalt and concrete did not convey much information in that area.

Last Sunday, after the turbulent storm of Saturday, Lorraine and I, along with our friends Jerry and Bunny, visited the Giverny Exhibition at the Bronx Botanical Gardens. Honestly, I had never been there prior to last Sunday. I always believed that Central Park was the only land set aside for greenery and plant life within the bounds of New York City. Not true.

The Botanical Gardens housed thousands of glorious flowers, trees, cactuses, and lily-filled ponds that were dazzling to the eye. The Giverny Exhibition was a monument to Claude Monet (1840-1926). Monet was a prolific French Impressionist painter, with a passion for water lilies, flowers and nature, who bought some small natural acreage in Giverny in northern France. He then started planting (and then painting) thousands of flowers and natural scenes on his property. He created 2500 paintings and 500 drawings. He invited many of the famous artists of his time to dine and view his gardens. He loved good food and good company; Yorkshire Pudding was his favorite dish.

On his estate was a scenic bridge over a lily pond. This was all captured at the Botanical Gardens. We also viewed two of his paintings of the wild growth, while a tram ride with speakers was exciting and informative.

How did I ever miss this oasis, this paradise that was only a few blocks from where I grew up? Shame!

We left the gardens and we were starving. Fortunately, Arthur Avenue was close by with all of its Italian restaurants (although at one time, it also held the draft board that all the Bronx boys reported to.) Emilia’s was our choice. It was and is a family restaurant with authentic southern Italian food. We sat in the window as we ate the glorious dishes. The bread was especially delicious and we ate three trays of it.

A huge fair was going on and Arthur Avenue was closed to traffic as thousands of people walked by our window. Zeppoles, sausages and sangria were sold on the street, contributing to a truly festive air. We all promised to come back to the Gardens and Arthur Avenue in the near future.