The crazy winds of the past few days have reminded me of a trip that the Prodigal Geordie and I took to New York in 2010. We were there on September 16 when tornadoes hit Brooklyn and Queens. I remember being downtown, somewhere in SoHo I think. The sky got darker and darker. For three in the afternoon, it was pretty much night for us.
A sharp decision to step into a cheap and cheerful bar saved us from absolute drenching. We sat drinking a beer while we watched rain come down so heavy it was like someone was literally throwing buckets of water over people. Hailstones were next, the wind howled through and then, before we’d even finished our beverages it was over and the sun came out.
It was only afterwards when we saw the footage of the storm that we realised quite how intense it had been.
What’s this got to do with cemeteries?
A couple of days after the storm we were set to visit PG’s friend over in Brooklyn. We had a lovely day planned brunching, browsing a flea market (which seems to be still going, albeit in a new location), and having a few drinks in the now, frankly tropical weather.
And then I realised there was a cemetery.
I had a dilemma, Do I go shopping and pick up arty things from arty people in Brooklyn or do I visit Green-Wood Cemetery?
Clearly the cemetery won.
I left my pals happily browsing the jewellery and books and headed off to Green-Wood. Luckily we were already in the neighbourhood so it was walkable (or so I thought). 30 mins later walking on an uninspiring concrete pathway, in the heat, after cocktails the night before was not a good place to be.
I was knackered before I even got there! The cemetery is huge too: 478 acres. I couldn’t do it justice – so I’ll have to go back.
I wandered amongst the graves and pathways that day. Just taking in the views – you can see Lady Liberty over in the New York Harbour on a clear day.
I plan to write a more detailed piece another time on the residents and the history of Green-Wood (and this gives me the perfect excuse to go back).
But for today, can you imagine walking for hours in the cemetery, knackered but thankful that you can see the gate up ahead? Knowing that 5 minutes away on the subway, an ice cold beer awaits you?
Then you turn the corner and see a felled tree caused by the storm, with no way to get over or around it. Can you imagine that sinking feeling when you realise you have to back track?