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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Coffey Park

Red Hook's famous food trucks frame Red Hook Recreation Area, but for an actual park, Coffey is your destination in this legendary neighborhood.

Coffey Park, named for an Irish-born local politician, is 8-plus acres of passive and active recreation in the middle of Red Hook, the formerly scary-dangerous Brooklyn neighborhood that, in spite of a lack of subway service, has undergone a cultural renaissance in recent years – as well as a commercial one with the arrival of a Fairway supermarket, an Ikea, and a cruise ship dock.

The park's flat lawns welcome small fry and their dads.

Shapely evergreens line up proudly…
and April flowers are a colorful sight.

The park provides a good view of Visitation Church and the (sort of) famous "R" sign.
And this last shot…well, it's just a nice picture. So check out Coffey Park when you're in Red Hook. And there are plenty of good reasons to visit Red Hook. Bars. Waterfront. Fairway. (And Steve's Authentic Key Lime Piesway better than what Ikea has the nerve to serve as "Swedish meatballs." Just sayin'.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

McKinley Park

There's nothing special about this small park in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Or so I thought. Then I reviewed my photos and noticed the decided leftward tilt of much of the landscape of modest McKinley Park.

I'd noticed these curiously angled tree stumps but pegged them as nothing more than a curious anomaly, and nothing else had particularly caught my eye:

Springtime made these blossoming trees a pleasant sight, so I snapped this photo, not noticing the leftward bend of the tree at the right of the stand.

The following photo seemed like a pretty standard shot, the kind I like to take to give a sense of perspective and the size of the park. Sure, there's a kid running to the left, and a couple of the trees are leaning a little bit that way, but these didn't seem remarkable in themselves.

But take a look at the image that struck me when I first entered the park. Leaving aside the question of what kind of animal this is – an otter? a beaver? a fanciful seal with a land-animal tail? something else? – I'm wondering why the garbage pail was knocked over in this otherwise fairly well maintained six-acre park, with its playground, ball courts, trees, pathways, and modest hill.

An answer to the mystery suggested itself only after I exited the park and spotted this shrine, with the inscription: "No Farewell Words Were Spoken, No Time To Say Goodbye, You Were Gone Before We Knew It, And Only God Knows Why." It hangs across the street from the park, on the fence that keeps you from tumbling down into the Gowanus Expressway gully.

Had someone fallen onto the highway somehow, in spite of the high fence? Or was the memorial to a victim of an auto accident? No way of knowing, but one thing was for sure: the juxtaposition of high McKinley Park with the Expressway-in-a-Ditch had created a tachyonic dimensional vortex that was pulling the trees, the trash cans, the nameless memorialized person, probably even the children towards the highway. That explained why the fence had to be so high. It explained the two stumps, the remains of trees that had bent over so far they had started to freak out the park-going populace and had to be cut. It explained the toppled trash can, and the leaning trees. It certainly explained the fact that whichever direction I faced, things were leaning to the left.

It's Occam's razor, see. The simplest explanation is probably the correct one. Honestly, I don't know how I didn't see it right away.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Owl's Head Park

Nestled along the western Brooklyn coast, Owl's Head Park is 24 acres of rolling hills, grassland, trees, and paths that take you far enough away from the neighborhood of Bay Ridge – quiet enough in the first place – that it can be hard to believe you're still in the city.

In the photo above you can glimpse the bay on the left. A path will take you almost to the water, in fact. It was awfully quiet in Owl's Head Park on the unseasonably warm and beautiful early March day of my visit, a perfect day for an escape from city life. A few people idling on benches, a few children playing, but very easy to wander into the middle of a seeming nowhere.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for gnarly roots.

A couple of moms pushed strollers in the distance:

Turning back towards the entrance, the vista of houses and apartment buildings does remind us that we are, in fact, still in New York City. But Owl's Head Park, the origin of whose name is unknown, provides ample opportunity for an extended break from a busy life.