Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I Like About our Harlem Flat

A couple months ago, Wolfman and I, moved into our small flat in Harlem.
At first I wasn't too thrilled by it, mostly because I felt we were rushed into the decision. As time goes by, I feel it progressively growing on me.

Sure there is only one closet, there's no laundry room in the building and the closest one is, well, scary looking but our south facing windows let the sun shine in from morning until dusk.

The five flights of narrow winding stairs we must climb always smell something but they also bring us that much closer to the roof access which is positively magical at all times of day. Mornings are great for yoga and when the sun goes down, we have a beautiful view of the city lights all the way to the Empire State Building.

For all its flaws, it's by the foot of the basement staircase that we found our little Charlie, the Harlem Rabbit. She (although we frequently refer to her using masculine terms; old habits die hard) is such a joy to have. We have concluded that she thinks of herself as a dog and as she lounges around the house much like one. We're still working on "coming when called" and "playing fetch", but we'll get there.

In front of the flat, where we often find a parking space, grows a Sycamore; a species that range does not naturally extend to Montreal but I tree I love none the less. The smooth camouflage patterned bark, palmately lobed leaves, and round prickly fruit fill are wonderful enough on their own, but what really makes me smile are the leaf impressions scattered about the sidewalk; permanent proof of the Sycamore's presence. This tells me they most probably out down the cement in autumn. I wonder how many of my neighbors have noticed.

Those sun facing windows I mention, also look out at what Wolfman described as a NYC tree line; the rooftop of an abandoned building now colonised by Cottonwood and various hardy weeds. It's lots of fun to watch because it gets many visitors: European Starlings, Little Brown Jobs (unidentified birds) and most recently Blue Jays. As time passes this little green haven will develop as the species present are ecosystem engineers and soon I'll be spotting many more species from the comfort of my couch.

In the defense of my flat, against myself, I must also argue that when looking for a home, the most important consideration is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Our flat is near the A-B-C-D-2 and 3 trains, we have a great Keyfood store, Chinese food restaurant, great Delis, a New York Public Library, a park, Wolfman's school AND a hospital all in under 15min walking distance. Oh yeah, and it's very affordable.

Yeah, I know, what's not to love about this place? Nothing. it's terrific.

This is a public apology to my Wolfman, for giving him such a hard time about the size of the place. Sometimes you just need to look at something from another perspective to see the beauty in the rough.

What do you like best about your place?

What kind of wildlife do you get to see?

I'd love to know.

Take Care!


  1. I love the windows on 3 sides of the living room that look out into the woods surrounding the house. From the couch, I can look north, east, and south into a wall of trees and vines.

    We regularly see cardinals, tufted titmice, and chickadees. During winter migration, the sparrow varieties go through the roof and goldfinches take over the feeders. You northerners also send us your juncos during the cold months.

  2. That sounds wonderful, thank you for sharing. Let me know if you ever need a house sitter.

    I have yet to see a junco in NYC, they are one of my favorites. I just haven't been looking in the right places.

  3. Sounds like a lovely apartment! The imprints of the leaves in the sidewalk almost sound like art.


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