Bryant Park

Piano in the Park

I find traveling through the boroughs en route to Manhattan to be a test of endurance. 

There’s always traffic, obviously since we’re a big city, so I avoid weekday travel into the city as much as possible. However, when that weekday is a holiday, well, then it’s a wonderful time to be there. For me, one of the little perks of being in the city, is discovering yards and gardens even smaller than my own. Much smaller…

Urban Garden

Some of the other perks are the general sights and sounds.


The chatter, the horns, the emergency sirens. It’s all part of the landscape. As are towering skyscrapers – skyscrappers so high they dwarf the trees.

Despite all this wonder and majesty, I normally find the city overwhelming. But yesterday, Labor Day, was quiet in comparison to the regular everyday hustle. And so, we enjoyed a blissful lunch in Bryant Park while the magnificent Frank Owen entertained us with his imcomparable piano playing.


Piano in the Park, as it is called, features top New York Pianists playing music from Scott Joplin (my absolute favorite), Eubie Blake, the Gershwins and more. 
Every weekday from noon until 1:45, anyone can sit under the umbrellas or trees and soak up the toe-tapping music and city atmosphere. That is precisely what we did yesterday and loved every minute of it.

Of course… this IS New York, and a tiny scuffle or run-in with the law is neither unexpected nor disruptive.

You see, despite the police presence, which grew slighty and steadily until this gentleman vacated the premises as requested, the show indeed went on.

In fact, it went on so wonderfully that during Frank’s phenomenal piano playing, a hand-written note was passed among the audience. The note stated that yesterday was Frank’s birthday and so, when he stood to thank us all for coming, we should all stand and sing, Happy Birthday. Say what you want about New Yorkers, but we are a pretty cool bunch, each of us poker-faced after reading the note and nonchalantly strolling to the next person with it in hand. And every one of us standing at the end and joining in to wish this accomplished musician a wonderfully happy birthday.

He said we made his day. I must correct him. He made ours. 

(Please excuse the camera shake – I took this video with a tiny digital camera)

Back to “no-school”

I have to say it, while I disliked school as a kid, I did love the unique scent the end of summer brought. I called it the ‘smell of school’ and I liked it. It meant a change was coming and change excited me… to a certain degree.

Now that the air has that ‘smell of school’ again, I’m happy the change we’ll be experiencing will be unique. Yes, we’ll be starting ‘school’ but as homeschoolers, ours is more like ‘no-school’. We can pack the books and pencils, hop on our bikes and sit under a tree in the park to study. We can head to a museum to study art, science or natural history. We can sleep late, stop when we’re tired, then pick up again later on. The beauty of homeschooling – for us, as I know it’s not for everyone – is that children are constantly learning. Feeding their inquisitive minds is fun – and can certainly be a challenge. One thing that I love the most is that I learn as Daughter learns. I’m either reminded of things I’ve forgotten or I’m awakened to something new. What a thrill to learn together and to share the excitement of new concepts or understandings.

I’m very fortunate to be able to homeschool my daughter. It’s not just a wonderful experience for her, but a wonderful one for all of us as a family. There are some days when I think I’ve accomplished very little in my life, and I feel terribly low. Like right now with my writing, which has been on the back burner all summer. But then I realize how much we actually do – together – and know when Daughter grows up, she’ll take wonderful memories and moments along with her. Memories and moments I helped create for her not just as her mom but as her teacher and fellow student. She’ll be a life-learner, interested in why and how things are going on around her, not just that they are. The thought makes me smile as I plan another outing for tomorrow. Music and culture are the themes of the day.

Labor day morning at Bryant Park, NYC where pianist, Frank Owens, will be sharing the phenomenal music of Scott Joplin, the Gershwin’s, Eubie Blake and more while we sit under the trees and listen. And then Labor Day afternoon at the Botanical Gardens where we’ll learn about the culture of the Lanape Indians – a Native Nation vital to our area’s history.  

I look at possible events and can’t help circle them thinking, “Wow! This should be exciting!” And after all, isn’t that what childhood – indeed life – should be about?

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