Sunday September 2nd Smorgasburg, Prospect Park Brooklyn

Sunday September 2nd Smorgasburg, Prospect Park Brooklyn

11.57am

Not quite noon and I’m full up to pussy’s bow. I’ve found a shady spot on some soft grass in between picnic rugs. It feels like it’s time for a nap. I arrived an hour ago as the food stall event was opening. The sound of grills being lit and ice tipped into cooler bins was the soundtrack to my entrance. Grabbing a cold coffee with whole milk at the first stall in, I decided a reconnoiter was in order. The business names delight and amuse me.

Takumi Taco

Lobsterdamus

Bonsai Kakigori Japanese shaved ice

Jian-bing Shanghai-inspired street food

Mighty Quinn’s slow smoked barbecue

Rooster Boy

Handsome Hank’s Fish Hut

Mao’s Bao

Noodle Lane

Oyster Party

Okay, first point of order. Figure out which stalls sell smaller portions. After one circuit, I decide the morning is best started with a blood orange donut to go with my coffee. For $3.75, I buy enough donut for 2 people. I ask for a bag so I don’t feel compelled to finish it all. The wooden picnic table under the large central tree are still pretty empty so I take one end in the shade of an umbrella. The coffee is disappearing fast, long before the ice has a chance to melt. The tartness of the donut is balanced perfectly by the soft sweet dough. I look around at the crowds that are starting to gather.

That ramen burger is so instagrammable

Anyone want to share some mozzarella sticks?

Excuse me sir, what’s that you’re eating?

‘I’m not hungry but . . .’

‘Well, I’m here so I might as well like go crazy.

What is it? A dumpling? Wanna share?

The best thing about the jet ski is that you feel like you’re going through time. I’m not even joking.

It’s toss up as to begin the savoury section of my brunch with a taco or a sandwich. Slow cooked beef brisket wins. Two generous slices of tender brisket complete with smoke ring at the outer edge are placed on a soft slider bun. Creamy coleslaw, pickled cucumber and rings of red chilli are then piled on top. I attempt to return to my spot to find it’s already taken. The tables soon become hot property whether they’re in the shade or not.

I point to a vacant spot and ask, ‘do you mind if I sit here?’

A Scottish accent replies, ’go for it.’

Plopping down on the bench opposite I place my bun, napkins and various wet wipes on the table. ‘What a place. The hardest thing is deciding what to get.’

‘I know. My girlfriend has just gone for another pass at things.’

‘What was that?’ I point to the detritus in front of him.

‘A philly cheese steak, from over there.’ He points behind and I make a semblance of turning to check it out.

‘Good?’

‘Great. We don’t get them in Glasgow.’

I press the top of my bun down in attempt to get solid purchase on my meal. Fortune favours the bold, it is said, so I abandon all decorum and get stuck in. Lifting the bun to my mouth, I take a generous bite, hoping to get some of each part of the whole. There’s nothing worse that the last mouthful of anything being just the salad, or just the pickles. Balance is important. I can feel something clinging to my chin. I grab the wholemeal napkin and wipe extensively.

Pale skin and ponytail bobbing, the girlfriend returns. ‘Hi, I’m Rachael.’

Wiping my hands hurriedly, I introduce myself. ‘Hi, I’m Mandy.’

My table buddy takes his turn. ‘Oh, sorry. I’m Grant.’

Light

 

That liminal moment when it is no longer night time but daytime.
The quiet outside pierced by bird sounds before the gentle hum of traffic builds.
When do I no longer try and get more sleep but roll over and cuddle the cat, stroking her fluffy tummy until she bites me?
This is a time that holds infinite promise of what might become of the day, any dream residue fades as I forcibly blink my eyes open.

I refuse to turn on a lamp or overhead bulb. What’s the point? Nature provides a more gentle approach if only I can swing my legs out of bed and stumble to open the heavy curtains. My organized sister bought herself a smart lamp that she controls via an app on her phone. Programmed to gradually increase the illumination to allow the body to wake gently, it does the reverse in the evening. A return to pre-electricity peasant days perhaps.

My mother will tell you that I’ve never been a morning person like she is. She likes to divide our family into morning and non-morning people. Her category is naturally superior. Morning people get more achieved, are better organized and nicer to be around apparently. I will argue that society is set up for morning people, whilst my B-section of society is actively discriminated against. How is possible that students and employees are expected to be useful contributors at the ungodly hour of 9am every day? There is no consideration for individual bio-rhythms.

My brain doesn’t kick in until after I’ve had breakfast at the decent hour of 10am, and that is only for errands and procedural activities. The creativity quadrant doesn’t switch on until afternoon at best. My eyes need these light-filled hours to soak in stimuli before it can process the information and regurgitate something useful. I call this time pre-thought. It’s a passive time of reading, watching, walking and not actively thinking. The morning is the time to do this. The particular quality of a.m. sunlight is vastly different to the afternoon. Time has a different scale. It is neither always quicker nor always slower. It ebbs and flows as it pleases.

Cats have the ideal approach to daylight. They seek out slim patches of sunlight and stretch out, recharging their batteries. Naturally solar-powered they expend this energy overnight as they chase each other around the house. I’m sure the grey one sits on my bed, staring at me in disbelief as to why I would want to waste the darkness sleeping.

On hungover mornings though, the sun has a new vicious character altogether. Day always comes too soon. It harsh, too-bright rays refused to be contained behind the drapes. My eyes pierced by the light as I fall out of bed, trip over the grumpy cat and search for the bathroom which seems to have somehow moved overnight. I don’t want to look in the mirror but I know I must confess my sins. Black rimmed panda eyes, mouth that feels like I’ve been licking a wild dog, hair that I don’t even recognize. I blame the artificial bathroom lights above the mirror. These globes are produced to offend surely. Nobody wants that much detail in a reflection.

As I get older, I’ve learnt how to avoid these type of mornings more. Two nurofen and a large glass of water before bed OR not drinking as much – who knew. The daylight is inevitable so I am the variable in this equation. I’m the one that can change and much to my mother’s surprise I have.

Somewhere along the line I became a morning person. Not my mum’s sort of morning person, radio on singing to oneself as eggs are cooking. I became my sort of morning person. I had moved out and was living by myself for the first time. No partner to consider, I could arrange furniture as I wished. And so I did. I faced the bed towards the window and left the curtains open. In the morning the chilled air stirred me before dawn and that’s when I discovered it – that liminal time between night darkness and day light.