The past two days I've spent luxuriously lounging around at home, listening to General Conference, a twice yearly event that, thanks to modern technology, I can enjoy in my pajamas. It is when the leaders of the church broadcast four sessions of talks to LDS people the world over. It's always wonderful--it renews my faith, energizes me, and gives me a greater peace and understanding of life. And perhaps I ought to go watch it at the church, where they show it on the big screen in the chapel, but it's streamed live online, and it is so nice to be able to curl in a sunbeam with a blanket and my current crochet project, and just listen peacefully alone.
In between the sessions of conference I ventured outside to take pictures of Harlem. On Saturday it was gray, extremely windy, and chilly. I walked the length of 116th Street, from west to east and took pictures of huge once-decadent churches that are now crumbling from poverty-induced neglect. My pictures didn't turn out very well, but I had a wonderful time. East 116th Street is right in the middle of El Barrio, or Spanish Harlem, and on Saturday it was a festive, vibrant mixture of people. There were women selling woven palm fronds with little pictures of the Virgin Mary attached to them. Lots of Latin-American food peddlers. And there is a big African influence, too--in fact there is an African market, aimed at tourists, with stalls of jewelry, clothing (Dutch wax print cotton!), drums, masks, etc. I saw so many captivating things. And so many friendly old guys kept telling me I needed a coat! And actually, I was kind of frozen by the time I got home.
But today it was bright and sunny, so I went back, again in between conference sessions. My friend Peter joined me, and we roamed Harlem, hitting 116th Street again, as well as some other side streets and back alleys. He was obsessed with old red brick buildings, crumbling cornices, and elaborate ironwork. I was fixated on the churches, graffiti, and one building with the most amazing Greek-revival columns covered in graying, peeling paint. Spring has definitely arrived! Marcus Garvey Park was full of daffodils, hyacinths, narcissi, and forsythia. Even green grass! The sky was blue, and the air was warm--a perfect backdrop for the old ladies in big sparkly hats coming out the Baptist churches, and the beautiful Hispanic boys and girls streaming out of the Catholic churches, their hands clutching folded palm fronds.