What’s that sound? I asked myself at five o’clock this morning, while puttering around in the kitchen, getting my coffee started and the cats’ breakfast. Plock. Plock. It was rain. And it was solving all my problems.
I had to take my car in for inspection this morning, so instead of leaving the car at the ferry-dock parking lot last night and worrying about it today, I took an unaccustomed route home: the No. 4 train (I had wound up on the Upper East Side) to Nevins, in Brooklyn, where I switched to the No. 2 train (I lost my balance getting up before the train had stopped and tripped sideways in about eighteen tiny thudding steps, like a nightmare ballerina, holding onto a furled umbrella and a full backpack, and threatening for the length of half a subway car to slam into a straphanger and send us both crashing onto the floor before I could reach a pole to hang onto—it was quite a performance) to Flatbush, where I caught the Q35 bus, which has a stop at the Rockaway end of the Marine Parkway Bridge, a short walk from the ferry dock. I intended this morning to stick the bike in the trunk and drive to the mechanic’s, leaving the car with a note (Inspection, Oil Change, Transmission Fluid, Headlight—Fix or Retape?) and riding my bike the rest of the way to the ferry. But I don’t ride the bike in the rain (no brakes), and it made my morning so much easier to skip watering the garden, drive to the garage, and take the bus to the ferry.
I had to stop for gas, though, because I was afraid I might not have enough gas to make it to the mechanic's, or, if I did, that the car would run out of gas during its emissions test. My bright idea of holding down the price of gas by filling up when I still have half a tank has, obviously, failed, but, up against it at the pump this morning, I had another brainstorm: fill it just to half full. This kept the cost to twenty dollars. At Bulloch’s (the mechanic’s), gas is always extra expensive, because Bulloch's is an independent gas station. When I left my keys in the office, I noticed that the owner had been altering his gas-price signs with hand-drawn 5s, as in $5.19 per gallon.
The bus came right away, and though it made every stop, it still got me to the ferry dock fifteen minutes early. I have a new favorite seat on the morning ferry: the picnic table on the upper deck nearest the stern, facing front. I can set my coffee cup down and spread open a book. It’s like having a desk on a porch in New York Harbor: utterly luxurious. There were lots of container ships in the harbor—UASC, MOL, Baltic Monarch—and an excursion boat called the Golden Sunshine. When it’s socked in like this, things in the foreground stick out more. The sign at the new IKEA store in Brooklyn looked huge. On Governors Island, there was a parked car with “NUTS” painted on its side in big white letters. The air smelled like fish and yeast.
Today was a good day for the waterfalls—the four artificial waterfalls by the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson—because there was not much wind, and the water dropped straight down over the scaffoldings. Some mornings they have not been turned on yet. The New York Waterfalls are growing on me. I think I read that the artist said the idea is to be able to see all four of them at once. As we approach Manhattan, three of them are off to the right—one pouring off the BQE in Red Hook, one under the Brooklyn tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, one on the Lower East Side—and one over my left shoulder, at Governors Island.
There was a couple on the ferry today, tourists, who were killed taking pictures of everything: the Marine Parkway Bridge, Coney Island, the Verrazano, the skyline of Jersey City. As they are, so once was I. As we approached the pier at Wall Street, they were so busy taking pictures of the skyline that they missed the waterfalls completely.