There's a Whole Foods walkway following the 4th Street Basin round onto a main stretch of the canal. It offers great views, but it seems like a strange world when we're looking out from supermarket parking lots at landscapes poised for extinction. The store itself is jam-packed with customers, and has specials a-plenty for opening week. Even I'm getting grabby with the half-priced cheese. Nearby, a sign proclaims, "Welcome to Gowanus, 2 Acres for Development, Land for Rent, 55,000 SF." On the waters of the basin, right next to Whole Foods, a floating Harvest Dome, constructed of reclaimed umbrellas and soda bottles.
"The trajectories and traces of Harvest Dome 2.0 amount to a poetics of shared aspirations for the natural environment within the city. The challenge is to embrace the larger-than-life spaces of nature permeating our city without sizing them down for easy consumption. Harvest Dome brings people together in spaces and places seemingly inaccessible for their contamination, marginalization and neglect, to confront the sublime of nature and its transcendence in the urban realm, amid ongoing efforts to improve the quality, access and enjoyment of this resurgent public space."
Easy consumption's the name of the game around here, no?
You can still find the sublime without shopping for it though. Head down to 19th Street and take it as far west as you can. Ignore the No Trespassing sign at Vintage Foods and you're right at the water. Here canal meets Gowanus Bay. Here transcendence is all yours, with not another soul in sight. Here too, the landscape is fragile, but fleeting or not, its beauty will take your breath away. The gulls cry, the waters offer limpid, glowing reflections, and before you all the glories of sea, sky, highway, viaduct, crane, container rusted into dark gold, the hulking grain terminal, In the distance, a boat, the Hunting Creek (Baltimore, MD), slips slowly towards the sun-dipped horizon.