Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Monday turned out to be oriented to Henry Hudson, who stumbled upon the generous harbor of the river that now bears his name four centuries ago. At the Museum of the City of New York, where we went to see the Mannahatta Project, we also took in Amsterdam/New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson. This was pretty good, and tightly packed into a space that made it feel like we might have been on the Half Moon itself (its proportions were only recently discovered; meanwhile, it isn’t known what Hudson himself looked like).

What the tongue of woodsy schist that was Manahatta looked like when Hudson showed up is the point of the Manahatta Project. It’s an attempt to recreate the environment found when the Europeans arrived. The hills, streams, springs (hundreds of them), marshes, chestnut-oak-tuliptree forests. And the habitats, the lions and bears and beavers, o my. And of course the people who were here already. On display were stuffed examples of Eskimo curlew, passenger pigeon, and heath hen, all now extinct via extermination.

As one who knows that the city is still full of lifeforms (for instance, I’ve seen 197 species of bird in NYC or the surrounding waters; meanwhile, the checklist I have has 307 species on it), this stuff isn’t surprising to me. Maybe its because Breuckelen isn’t so damned paved (fully half of Manhattan is road or parking lot or other paved surface).

Afterwards we walked through Central Park, where the storm treefall of several weeks ago was still very much in evidence; we saw a dozen recently cut stumps, some of them root-tipped. Smaller trees like cockspur hawthorn were in full red fruit.

For dinner we found ourselves in Bar Tabac on Smith St, which was participating in the month long NY400 Taste NiEuW Amsterdam $24.00 pre fixe. (Manhattan, you will recall, was "purchased" for 60 guilders, about $24). I ordered a la carte, but OHS had this 3-course special, which was quite good (and generously portioned -- I’ve found some of those Restaurant Week specials skimpy at other places in the past).


amarilla said...

The tongue of woodsy schist! Thatsa nice! Reminds me of words I once heard, something like *the fleshpots of my ears* and *pickled baby fingers.* What lovely snags you jury rig.

Matthew said...

Thanks. I laid down some pickled baby fingers today, actually. (That's wax beans to you vegans out there.) They're fridge pickles, and will be ready this weekend for a pot luck.