We went with one notion – to see Michael's bench, to sit and share a sense of grace. Ann and I remain stalwart fans of author Louise Penny and her Three Pines family, brought together by Inspector Armand Gamache. In July of 2016 Ann and I adventured to Canada to see first hand the places that inspired Louise to create this world of fiction, mystery, and murder, and powerful friendships.
Along the way we grew to know Louise Penny, receiving her monthly newsletter where she writes to us as if we were each her neighbor in a close knit town. This meant we also grew to know Michael, her wonderful husband, who died last September after living with dementia and Alzheimer's.
And so it came to be that Ann and I met at Grand Central Station this past Friday, September 1, having each traveled by our local Metro North line into the city. A perfect city day – sunny, blue sky, gentle wind, clean air, not overly crowded. We ambled and walked north, with minor detours to the west and east, from 42nd Street all the way to 102nd and Central Park. Stopping to purchase food for a picnic lunch in the park, serenaded during lunch by an impromptu jazz band, we eventually made our way to Michael's bench. And from there, after paying our respects, we walked onwards to 125th Street and the Metro North Harlem stop, parting to board our respective trains and wind down a wonderful day spent in the company of friends.
We began with a full on visit to the reading rooms of the 42nd Street Public Library, with Patience and Fortitude guarding the entry. No pictures taken because I was too busy "oohing" and "ahhing" silently over the wondrous interior. (Hard to believe this was my first visit there!!!) The first picture has Rockefeller Center in the background, a bit washed out in the light, perhaps looking less familiar than in winter when the ice skating rink is in full mode. We detoured through the Cooper Hewitt gardens and museum store, stopping just long enough to play in Alice's tea cups. Michael's bench speaks for itself. And on our walk north from there we passed multiple community gardens; the heart on this one summed up our day.