By Miriam Felton-Dansky
By Lilly Lampe
By R. C. Baker
By Tom Sellar
By Alexis Soloski
By Molly Grogan
By R. C. Baker
A colorful garden can provide a welcome contrast to the drab urban palette, but come summertime it's an olfactory antidote that's truly appreciated. Want to grow flowers that smell as lovely as they look? Head to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on June 25 and take "Gardening for Fragrance," a three-hour class that will help you transform your 10 square feet of urban green space into an aromatic oasis (718-623-7200, bbg.org).
The paintings of the Hudson River School, a term applied to artists depicting rural mid-19th-century New York, helped affirm the connection between the natural world and the identity of a young nation. And you just thought they were pretty. Learn more about these deeply evocative pieces and their social and political implications at "Nature and the American Vision: Masterworks of Landscape" on May 21 at the New-York Historical Society (212-873-3400, nyhistory.org). The class will feature works by Durand, Bierstadt, Cropsey, and more.
Has the furor over Pale Male gotten you feeling all ornithological? You needn't be a resident of a Fifth Avenue co-op to get in on the action. The Brooklyn Bird Club, around since 1909, offers regular bird-watching events, both at its Prospect Park home base and farther afield (brooklynbirdclub.org). Upcoming events focus on migrating species, this being the season, and include the "Birdathon," a nationwide bird-spotting competition held on May 14, International Bird Migratory Day. Theo Schell-Lambert
Cameras have infiltrated our computers and cell phones. Considering how much photo buildup the average urbanite incurs, maybe it's time some of us learn how to avoid making our friends look like idiots by taking "Portrait Photography" at Cooper Union (212-353-4195, cooper.edu/ce). And once you're competent you can get "creative" with your pictures by enrolling in "Photoshop: Creative Imaging" at Tisch (212-998-1800, photo.tisch.nyu.edu).
Encumbered by pressure to impress with your breadth of knowledge? Take a chance and do something more specific with "Photogravure and Direct Gravure" at Cooper Union (212-353-4195, cooper.edu/ce) where "students learn to etch the plate gradually from the deepest shadows to the brightest highlights." This will prove useful in your art as well as in consultation with your hair dresser.
The School of Visual Arts' "Summer Residency in Photography" (212-592-2188, schoolofvisualarts.edu/ce) immerses students' in the photographic world. Brave the darkroom fumes and reform your images into stark black-and-whites rather than the dull grays to which you've lazily become accustomed. Janine Armin
RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY
Broke yogis look no further! New students at any of BeYoga's five easily accessible studios (212-935-9642 [midtown], beyoga.com) align their spines, and pay only $40 for a month of unlimited classes. The studios offer a $10 restorative class plus a variety of levels and flavors to suit any body. For kids, beginners, pregnant, and advanced students, BeYoga gracefully blends aspects of Hatha, Tantra philosophy, and Indian Ayurvedic healing into 60 blissful minutes.
Reach your fullest capacity for relaxation and awareness at Osho Active Meditation (917-513-6619, trancebreath.com), where you can explore breathing techniques, ecstatic movement, vocalization, dance, and stillness. Classes are accompanied by African, Middle Eastern, and trance rhythms.
Gain some clarity and perspective by attending the four-week, Buddhist-oriented "Introduction to Meditation" courses, beginning May 5 and June 2, at Greenwich Village Center(212-749-0942, fwbo-nyc.org/events.html). Each week's class focuses on a new topic: breathing, Metta Bhavana meditation, hindrances in meditation, and incorporation of meditation into our everyday lives. Katie Clancy
Kayaking, the preferred sport of the Nalgene set, may seem more appropriate for Boulder or Telluride than New York City, but the Manhattan Kayak Company (212-924-1788, manhattankayak.com) is taking steps to change that perception. In addition to guided tours and workouts, the group gives lessons on the Hudson for various skill levels. Don't know a sweep stroke from a draw? There's "Paddle Basics I." Totally know those, but looking to work on low-brace turns? "Paddle Basics II." The company even offers instruction in rolling (fear not the dubious hygiene of the Hudson: that one's done in a pool).
Late spring in New York is leisure time, an occasion for champagne-and-strawberry picnics in the park and games that involve white boaters, V-neck sweaters, and not breaking a sweat. Enter lawn bowling. This genteel sport has been a part of New York history since the Dutch settlers landed at Bowling Green (get it now?), and it is still played by several clubs during the spring and summer in Central Park. Contact the Metropolitan Lawn Bowling Club (nysol.com/lawnbowl.html) and ask about a free lesson.
On the New York State Parks website, Manhattan's single contribution, Riverbank State Park (212-694-3600), is described as "the only park of its kind in the Western Hemisphere." The implications of an under-the-radar Grand Canyon in Washington Heights are misleading, but Riverbank is impressive, a sports complex and park built on a 28-acre rooftop above the Hudson. Offerings include basketball and volleyball leagues, fencing classes, and dirt-cheap memberships at the no-frills fitness center. Theo Schell-Lambert
The "Summer Writers Colony" offers salvation to those lacking in conversational thrust. Held at the New School (212-229-5611, nsu.newschool.edu), seminars, workshops, and readings will provide seekers of semantic perfection with advice from agents, editors, publishers, and major-league authors like Dennis Lehane and Joyce Carol Oates. In the "salon-style" atmosphere you will be given ample opportunity to enjoy informed discussions with people who might just be your new idols.