As I’ve mentioned before, in my early twenties I lived in a quiet New England town in Massachusetts called Wakefield. Our children were preschoolers back then, so our days were busy commuting the forty minutes to Boston to work and day care, work itself, and the business of raising two little ones. Spare time was reserved for showering, sleeping and socializing when we could fit it in. Celebrating our third year on the east coast without a vacation, my husband surprised me for my birthday that November with a weekend trip to New York city and much coveted tickets to a Broadway show. I was ecstatic. First because I’d never been, secondly because we were to be there during the start of the holiday season.
Taking a chance on the weather, we opted to drive the two hundred plus miles. It snowed heavily the week before we were to leave, but as if a switch was flipped, the last flake fell three days before we dropped the children off with our best friends and kissed them goodbye.Outside was frigid, but it was toasty in the car. From my passenger window the scenery looked like a Currier & Ives print, only far more lovely. Snow hung heavily on the boughs of the trees casting dramatic shadows on the pristine snow below. Occasionally a small rabbit could be seen scurrying across the stark whiteness leaving its paw prints to mark its passing.
Not in a hurry, a luxury for us, we lingered over lunch at an inn along our route and enjoyed the peace and quiet that accompanies moments without small children requiring your full attention.
New York itself came as such a dramatic contrast to the quiet back roads we’d travelled to get there, it almost made me giddy. People seemed literally to be everywhere, hailing cabs, crossing streets, and erupting from buildings and subway stairways surging like a huge swarm of army ants along the sidewalks. They reminded me of the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. You could almost feel the pulse of the city vibrating around you like a huge beating heart.
Scruffy looking men and women dressed in layers of ragged clothing huddled outside of greasy spoons along the street reaching their hands out and nodding their heads as passersby stopped to offer them change or a bill for a cup of coffee and a brief chance to warm themselves inside the buildings. Overcoats, woolen hats, mittens and boots weren’t optional in the cold evidenced by people’s breaths hanging in the air as if suspended in time.
Our hotel was located near the theater district, and was a far cry from the usual family style motels we were accustomed to. Our room was on an upper floor and offered a panoramic view of the city. There was an antique writing desk in the corner with writing paper and postcards advertising the hotel on the front sitting on the blotter.
That night we had reservations at a wonderful restaurant recommended by the hotel. It did not disappoint. Small twinkling lights sparkled in the trees outside the windows and what seemed like a Paul Bunyan Christmas tree with enormous gold and red ornaments dominated the lobby area. The food was outrageous, both in taste and price, and the service without fault. If you took a cigarette from your purse, before you could put it to your lips the wait staff practically lit you on fire trying to light it.
After dinner, we declined the offer of a cab from the doorman, and instead walked along the street looking in store windows. Truly, it was magical. Animated elves in one display hammered nails into boots in Santa’s workshop while Santa himself snored in a chair by a burning hearth. The next had a train, large enough to carry small children, pulling colorfully painted cars behind it. Each car overflowed with packages, teddy bears, dolls, skates, and sleds. The engine whistled and blew plumes of black smoke as it chugged up and down the snowy hills a designer had created for it. On each pass by the window a jolly snowman in an engineer’s hat waved at the onlookers. I decided right then that I wanted to be a window dresser. Now fourth on my list of what I wanted to be when I grew up.
We slept in the following morning, ordered eggs benedict room service, and spent the rest of the day exploring. Our “to do” list was typical. The Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, shopping, and watching the ice skaters. Dinner was to be after the theater. The play starred Glynis Johns in A Little Night Music. “Bring in the Clowns” was the featured song, and remains one of my favorites. The theater wasn’t quite as I’d envisioned. Rather like an actress whose makeup can’t hide the years, it was still quite beautiful but looked slightly faded beneath the lights. There was a feeling as though the words spoken there and the people who had spoken them lingered somehow within the confines of the building adding richness to the experience. I loved it. I added it as number five on my list, “actress in a Broadway play”.
You saw a little bit of everything when it came to attire, but for the most part people dressed. By that, I do not mean that they had put on their Sunday underwear, but they looked beautiful. Peacocks would have felt under dressed beside them. Men wore evening suits, or jackets and ties, and the ladies, truly in full flower, outshined them in flowing gowns, jeweled wraps, and a bodyguards worth of arm candy. What I noticed most was the smell. A lovely blend of expensive colognes, fine leather and fragrant pipe tobacco. Ahhh.
I made an excellent memory that weekend. Since then I’ve landed at the airport many times, but have never had the pleasure walking the streets again. If I win the lottery sometime soon, it’s on my list to do. I couldn’t live there. Too much of too much for me, but I understand the draw for those that choose to.
Crockpot Pot Roast with Red Wine with Red Wine and Vegetables
4-4 1/2 lb. boneless chuck roast
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 large carrots, cut in 2″ pieces
1 lg. yellow onion, quartered
1 lb. button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 zucchini, cut in 2″ pieces
10 baby red potatoes, halved
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups beef stock
1 cup merlot (use the good stuff-so much better)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 pkg. Lipton onion soup mix
1 Tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Garlic salt and black pepper
Sprinkle roast generously with garlic salt and black pepper. Brown roast in hot olive oil on both sides.
Layer carrots and onions on bottom of 6 quart slow cooker. Grind 2 times with black pepper.
Place roast on top of carrots and onion. Surround meat with potatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini.
Mix together beef stock, merlot, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion soup mix, garlic, herbs, and salt and pepper. Pour over roast.
Cook on low for 10 hours. Good stuff!