It’s a best-kept NYC secret, bustling with life. The bustling is done by the Cabbage White Butterflies who never got the memo that summer’s officially over now that school’s started. No, the butterflies don’t know. They flit in Riverdale on September 11th at Wave Hill, an easy-going, beautiful, educational, art/nature place.
All the things you love — art AND nature — wrapped into one FREE afternoon — Yes, free! The kids and I arrived at 11:55 am, just in time to discover that the center is free until noon on Saturdays. (Should I mention that the free morning is thanks to Target? Yes, I will because they also support the bustling hip, trendy MoMA Friday nights! Thanks, Target!)
The family art sessions are always fun. Always. I did wonder as we stepped into the big, dark cottage and saw all the toddlers and elementary school kids wielding glue sticks whether my three (freshly pressed) middle schoolers would still dig the magic of family art and the loose and loving guidance on some funky crafty nature project. But hooray, they still dug it! (H. did mention, “I never want to come back here in my entire life.” But rest assured, he’s big on hyperbole and I, who am also given to exaggeration, stayed strong. I replied, “We’re coming every Saturday for the rest of your life.”)
The first assignment for the family art session? Friendly and gorgeous Ilse instructed, “Take a walk around and collect dead nature specimens. Then, return to the cottage and make little accordion books that will fit neatly into your little decorated nature treasure boxes.”
I remembered around Thanksgiving one year at Wave Hill, we made corn husk dolls, taught by young Native Americans. Another time we looked at pictures of Matisse’s cut outs and tried to cut out flowers likewise.
The leader then was a lovely guy named Noah, who Ilse informed me retired in the Spring. He was always gentle and enthusiastic and welcoming. Ilse said, “I’ll send your regards to Noah.”
But I don’t think he specifically knew me or my kids. I think he was just one of those souls who treat everyone like a long-lost friend. (Any way, Thanks Noah!)
The new staff, Ilse, is, like Noah and wonderful Martha Borrero, who is still there, welcoming, glad to see you when you walk into the space.
As usual, we pushed the boundaries of time. Martha rang a bell to let us know that it was 1 pm and family art time was ending. We were still creating, gluing, drawing, cutting out shapes, filling our little nature boxes. We finally tore ourselves away.
We ate at the café outside. I love museum cafes. Museum cafes are a bit pricey but delicious. And eavesdropping is so much fun. The guy behind us was saying, “I have time. If I don’t find a girlfriend right now, it’s fine. I have to pay my bills, get out of debt, become more responsible.”
The kids talked about whether burning money is a federal crime. I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. As my 4th grade teacher used to say, “What am I? A walking encyclopedia?”
We departed by way of the gift shop, where we bought local honey and honey sticks, the kids’ favorite sweet treat.
September 11th is a very tough day for people like me who love New York City. The reason we love and live in NYC is that there are magical gems throughout the city — places like Wave Hill, full of butterflies and breezes, views of the Palisades and the Hudson River. What’s not to love?
Next year’s 9/11, the 10th anniversary, is going to be hard. I’m already planning to take the kids to Wave Hill again. If you want to go with me, let me know.