Aldona Bird, Contributors, Latest News

Country girl visits the big city — and loves it

When I told my sister the topic for this column, she said “the headlines will read; ‘Preston County family goes to the big city.’”

Despite my sister’s teasing, it’s true — my family and I did take a trip to the big city: New York City. And I’m here to report on it.

We went for an extra-long weekend last month, and focused on cultural experiences.

Arriving on a Friday afternoon, we settled into our hotel, and started our adventure.

That first evening we went to Times Square, which left my daughter completely mesmerized. So captivated by the enormous advertising screens was she, that she didn’t even hear me when I tried to talk to her.

In the following days we took in Central Park, the flatiron building and other landmarks that she had heard about and was thrilled to see.

We went to shows — first a production of Carnival of the Animals and some shorter pieces at New York City Ballet. Arriving at the theater, we noticed a crowd outside. It had gathered around two puppets — about 14-foot-tall ones, which glided around, looking to have emerged out of a folktale. We missed the start of their performance but enjoyed the unexpected spectacle.

The ballet was all it could have been. I particularly enjoyed the shorter works, choreographed by Balanchine. I had not seen the tarantella before, and found it just delightful and memorable.

We also went to see a Broadway musical. We picked “Hades Town,” the soundtrack of which my daughter had listened to repeatedly, although none of us had ever seen it.

Without being motivated by my child, I probably wouldn’t have opted to see a Broadway production. I figured I could enjoy theater in Morgantown and Pittsburgh. However, I’m so glad we went. The performance itself — the acting and singing — was terrific and so was the stage design. The stage had several consecutive circles built into it, which twisted in different directions at key moments, adding drama and magic to the show. The musicians were tucked onto the stage, integrating them into the performance. I’d go again in a heartbeat.

Each day we visited a museum — we made it to the Met, the Cloisters, the math museum and the Museum of Modern Art. We missed the Fashion Institute of Technology museum, much to my chagrin.

I enjoyed and was overwhelmed by each. I could have contentedly spent days in any one of them. The MOMA was so very crowded that the pressure to move on and make room for others didn’t leave much time to relax and enjoy the exhibits. I did take photos of my kiddo looking at art: Rosie admiring Starry Night, Rosie wondering at soup cans, Rosie entranced by Waterlilies, etc.

Then there was the food … each morning, we breakfasted on bagels, returning to our favorite place the last day. For lunch we grabbed a pizza or some other quick meal, and for dinner we went for (veggie) sushi, pho, empanadas, and one of my favorites — Korean food.

The last topped my list not because of the amazing food (although it was delicious), but because of the atmosphere and service. The staff, never hovering or rushing us, were so exceptionally attentive to the needs and preferences of our table, pointing out which dishes contained meat or fish sauce or specific allergens.

I love my mountain home, nestled in the hollow. I have to say, though, that a visit to the big city got me thinking about the next family vacation and the one or two after that.

ALDONA BIRD is a journalist using experience gained working on organic farms in Europe to help her explore possibilities of local productivity.