I just spent an hour in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park hugging an enormous golden retriever—soft and gentle and boundlessly sweet—who’d mosied over to my blanket from his mom and dad’s. When I first noticed him he was wriggling in the grass, cycling his legs in the air, and I thought: that guy really knows how to enjoy a summer afternoon. They were a couple about ten years older than me, and something about the way he planted himself between them after he was done rolling around suggested they’d had him instead of kids. When the dog–honest to God, his name was Wrigley–approached me, I asked if it’d be ok to say hi and they said so long as I could “handle a snuggler.” I could, and the two of us sat together for a while, his torso leaning into mine until I just went ahead and wrapped my arms around his neck. Both of our noses twitched as we inhaled the good smells of 5 pm sunshine in the July grass, the barbecue the Korean family was cooking on the other side of the trees, and after a beat we began to match our breaths. Finally he nudged me with his head, and I took the hint and buried myself in his neck.
I love my cat beyond measure but there’s something so wonderful about a visit with the right dog. As the three of them were leaving, I said, “Oh, he’s such a nice person,” and the woman replied, a little conspicuously, “Well, he did used to work as a therapy dog.” Okay, lady.
I consider nothing more luxuriant than waking naturally, unprompted by an alarm, fixing a cup of strong coffee with cream, and then settling back into bed amidst a drift of peonies, pillows, sheets, unread books. A mild wind fluttering through the curtain, a kitten poised at the open window’s sill. And silence. Voluptuous, soft silence. Yes, yes, another effusive post that could be chalked up to much ado about nothing. But I never forego the power in appreciating small pleasures. It allows you to find happiness pretty much everywhere.
What a day! After my Blue Detective debacle of a morning, I waltzed into the city and saw a curious German film—The Strange Little Cat—in a New Directors/New Films press screening at the Museum of Modern Art. Afterward, still halfway in that poker-faced comedy about the life and times of a family kitchen and its pets, I wandered through the museum’s galleries of late 19th-century art, peering over people’s shoulders at Gauguins and Van Goghs and Matisses. What a way to look at such impertinent paintings, now heralded as sacrosanct. I walked down 6th Avenue to Union Square, ogling window displays of buttons and flowers and velvet trimmings, and munching from a little wax paper bag of cashews sold by a kind-faced, doleful-voiced street vendor. As I walked, I thought about how New York is like the kitchen I’d just watched: always changing, always staying the same. I thought about about how, as much as I like Brooklyn, Manhattan’s street smells—hamburgers and onions, hot dogs, pretzels, smoky and sweet nuts, quick gusts of trash and fancy flowers—trump all. And I thought about how alley cats like me—ladies of a certain age, ladies of a certain indestructibility, ladies of a certain scandalous independence—have been clicking in high heels down the city’s avenues for hundreds of years. I hope we always will.