Did everyone enjoy today? It was not only sunny and beautiful–the temperature was appropriate! Not creepily warm in January or super-chilly for June.
The family was split up for the day, with Cute W and M headed way down south into Jersey for a soccer tournament and J and I hanging out here at home. This morning J had already turned on the tv before I ate breakfast, so I took a quick look at the absolute best site around for coming up with things to do and noticed that we had three, count ’em, three different festivals within biking distance of our house happening at roughly the same time. None of them are huge festivals, so I figured that we could stop by each one just to check them out.
Our first stop was the first-ever Bike and Pedestrian Festival at the town hall. Now, although this was a free festival, they asked people to pre-register because it included a community ride as part of the festivities. Of course we hadn’t pre-registered, but we just wanted to take a look-see. By the time we got our butts in gear, I think a lot of people were off riding their bikes, but there was still music playing and some kids circling cones in the cleared-out parking lot. The weirdest thing was that, since the normal parking was closed off, I guess, there were several cars parked on the grass between the street and the gazebo. I’ve never seen cars parked on the grass there, and it was a jarring sight for an event devoted to celebrating non-automotive types of transportation.
I have to admit that I was also a little self-conscious because J was not wearing her helmet on this particular bike ride. This is a bit of a hot-button issue in our household, actually. I am strongly pro-helmet. The main reason that I’m strongly pro-helmet is because I have the vivid memory of that time I crashed my bike and went over the handlebars and really smacked my helmet hard against the pavement. I found the helmet to be particularly helpful on that occasion. Cute W is not anti-helmet, exactly, but he is opposed to forcing people to wear bike helmets. In Europe and other more bike-friendly countries, people don’t wear helmets, and there is some indication (don’t make me cite sources, because I’m usually on the other side of this discussion with Cute W) that forcing people to wear bike helmets actually reduces bike usage, and Cute W would like to see more people biking. Early on, this issue was simple because children are required by NY State Law to wear helmets while biking. . . but then what happens when you’re not a kid anymore? And of course we all went to Paris and biked multiple days through the crowded and hectic streets of a major metropolis without wearing helmets. Because when-in-Rome and all. So if I wanted to keep any sort of moral authority as a helmet-stickler, I should have insisted on them or packed them or whatever.
So. I sighed when J didn’t put on a helmet, but I didn’t press her on the issue. But then we were at the official bike event, which included a bike giveaway as well as tons of impressionable young kids who saw my super-cool big kid riding around helmet-free, putting her skull at risk with wanton abandon, and I felt like a loser mom.
. . . And, in the process of writing this, I looked it up and saw that kids are required to wear helmets until they’re 14, and J is only 13, still, so she was officially breaking the law. Do you want to award me my Parent of the Year sash now, or tomorrow, when I choose to forget that I ever even looked that up?
Anyway, we didn’t stay long at the town hall before we headed over to the Upper Union Street Strawberry Festival. We’ve attended many a Strawberry Festival, and they’re. . . fine. I think the fact that the cars continue driving through on Union the whole time is a bummer. It also feels a bit like the festival hasn’t particularly grown: each year you know to expect the bounce house in the Homestyle parking lot and tons of strawberries near Dean Street. But we ran into some friends, which is always nice. And J got excited checking out the stand for High Voltage Coffee + Tea. You can see some of their set-up on their Facebook page. If all goes well, they’ll be opening a storefront in the big new building at State and Erie around October. J and I enjoyed sniffing some samples of tea, and when J asked if we could buy some, I said yes because the guy was nice and it’s a new business (and, as the helmet story illustrates, I am a pushover). As I asked the price I had a running commentary in my head saying something along the lines of please-don’t-be-so-expensive-that-it-will-piss-me-off, because it’s fancy-ass tea, right? So I was expecting overpriced and thinking $6 or $8 and fearing $10, and then it was $4! So: yay. J explained that she really, really loves making her own teas with her blend-your-own-tea kit that she got for Christmas, and she was thrilled to hear that the store would have a similar thing, where you could make custom teas. So that was a success.
Next stop was Central Park for Juneteenth, but en route of course we had to linger at one of J’s favorite places, the Central Park Rose Garden.
No, it’s not my best picture, ever. I was distracted because J went far into the garden and I’d left the bikes unlocked, and have I mentioned that my bike was stolen from our garage? So I am a little hyper-paranoid about bike theft these days. And I know what you’re thinking: “Katie, if you were actually that worried about your bikes getting stolen, the sensible choice would be to lock your bikes.” And I know, I know. You’re totally right. Except that the really super-tragic thing that happened is that my good, easy-to-use bike lock was hanging on the handlebar of my bike that got stolen, so it was stolen, too. This was a more recent, completely bitter discovery. My only consolation is that the thieves don’t know my combination, so it is useless to them. Oh. Unless they’re smart enough to Google how to re-set that kind of lock. Which they probably are. Because they were smart enough to choose the best bike in our garage. But: whatever. The point is that I brought a bike lock, but it was a bit of a pain-in-the-neck bike lock that takes about quadruple the time my old one did to get my bikes locked.
Anyway, J enjoys frolicking in the rose garden and in the lovely little water features nearby.
We also liked the fish.
We even caught one of our favorite rose garden finds: a bridal party taking pictures. They had a great day for it.
After a bit of meandering, we biked over to Juneteenth, which turned out to be the most festive of all of the festivals. J and I timed it well, because we managed to catch some excellent African drumming and dancing. J particularly appreciated the little kids’ performances. We checked out some of the stalls–well, really, J checked out the stalls while I chit-chatted with friends that I ran into–and wandered around a bit, but at this point we were getting pretty hungry for a late lunch, and we wanted to go a little less greasy than food trucks in order to save ourselves for some greasy Indian take-out for dinner.
Incidentally, Cute W wrote a Yelp review for Karam Restaurant and Grill quite a while ago, and I guess at the time they were new enough that they could recognize which of their customers he was, so they amped their nicer-than-average tone to super-delighted-to-see-us every time we come in. Today, for example, they were a little low on Malai Kofta that we’d ordered, and so he ended up giving us what he had as well as pressing additional food on us, even though I was kind of a pain in the neck about asking for still more mint chutney and tamarind sauce.
Back at home, J and I had a little culinary project to work on. But more on that later.