Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spanish Coffee for the Three Kings

I picked up a Spanish coffee this morning from Café Lali on 10th and 45th, one of my favorite stops. As I waited for my espresso and hot milk (no sugar, please) I noticed the bag of Bustelo coffee beans under the counter - a bracing blast of Cuba.

Cup of the day #58
Three Kings Cup by Gwyneth Leech
Colored ink on cream colored paper cup 
with black and red printing

The weather is freezing and the cup kept my hands warm as I made my way home along 47th Street through a canyon of black garbage bags surmounted by discarded Christmas trees. What with the holidays and the December 26th blizzard, there has been no trash pickup on our street for over ten days. When are they going to haul all this off to a landfill in Pennsylvania? Truly shocking to see how fast our post-consumer waste accumulates! Adrian Kondratowicz has the right idea - use decorative garbage bags to turn these mountians into art installations.

Now, as for the Christmas trees... OK, when does Christmas end? For the New Yorker who goes out of town for Christmas, that tree can be out on the sidewalk as early as Christmas Eve (very sad sight). For many, it is December 26th, and for even more people January 1st sees the dried-out, tinsle-tangled relic on the curb.

But New York City Parks Department and I are in the know. Christmas last 12 days, and they don't pick up for wood chipping until after the twelfth day, which is January 6th and the Feast of the Three Kings. 

In my mind Three Kings is a Spanish holiday since I had never heard of it before a post-Christmas trip to Spain with my family when I was 6. We were spending a year in Switzerland, my dad a university professor on sabbatical leave, and had travelled by train to Madrid.

January 6th found us in Toledo. I remember a cobbled street outside massive city walls. In the distance we spied the three kings - literally: brilliant colored robes, shining turbans, jewels and gifts! I dashed ahead of my family, running across the cobbles. It ended as many of my early memories seem to - with me tripping and falling on my face. By the time I was up-righted and the tears wiped away, the kings could be seen getting into a car and driving off. The disappointment is still keen.

Adrian Kondratowicz's biodegradable trash bags 
crowning a street corner

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