It's Fiddlehead season in Maine and in New York City a mysterious Telectroscope has surfaced under the Brooklyn Bridge. Had I ever experienced either of these oddities? Definitely not. Was I curious? You bet! And since I was in the right place at the right time for both (yes, it was a busy travel week), I figured, why not?
For the past year, people in Maine have told me how great Fiddleheads are to eat. "They're sort of like asparagus,but different" I was told. "And they're only available for the first few weeks of May so you have to grab them when you see them." So, I watched for the roadside Fiddlehead stands and asked for them every time I was in the grocery store. Yet, they were no where to be found.
While I waited, I did a bit of research on this mysterious "delicacy" and learned that these seemingly innocent f-heads have actually poisoned people! If I didn't want to get sick, I needed to make sure I bought the Ostrich Fiddlehead. For me, that ruled out the fly-by-night fiddlehead stands and the taxi drivers that I learned traded in these coveted greens at the airport. If I was going to try the curly-cue fern sprouts, I'd only do it if a grocery store chain was willing to stand behind them. Putting my trust in a chain of stores is a false sense of security, I know, but it was a good way for my cautious side to quell my curious side.
To the chagrin of my cautious nature, the Fiddleheads appeared in the vegetable section of Hannafords Grocery the day before I was going to make the 8-hour drive from Bangor to NYC. They looked like the Ostrich type so I ignored the gastro-threat they posed for my long car ride and scooped up a bag for dinner. I boiled, buttered and salted them as instructed by the web and word of mouth and dug in with high hopes.
I tasted butter...salt...and something like spinach (definitely not asparagus) but with a hint of dirt. Having grown up under the tyranny of 2 big brothers and lots of boys in the neighborhood, I've eaten enough mud pies to know the taste of dirt. If you're into dirt, Fiddleheads could be for you but they're certainly off my diet unless someone out there
can convince me otherwise. The good news is, they didn't get me sick or jeopardize the ride to NYC where I stumbled upon oddity #2 -- the Telectroscope.
To picture the Telectroscope, think of a giant, old-fashioned looking glass. Now, imagine it hurtling out of the sky and crash landing on the pier below the Brooklyn Bridge, embedding itself half above the pier and half below it.
If you can picture that, you may be on the same wavelength as Paul St. George who built the Telectroscope to look through underwater tunnels on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean and enable people in New York and London to see each other in real time. A twin Telectroscope sits on the shores of the Thames, near the London Bridge and like me, passers-by stand in front of it, wave and write messages on mini white boards. ("What time is it there?" was a popular white board question and it seemed to indicate that I wasn't the only one that questioned whether this stunt was real.)
The idea for the Telectroscope came from the Victorian Age, when Paul St. George's great-grandfather/inventor sketched out the designs for an apparatus that would
enable people to have visual communication across the ocean, via underwater tunnels that were yet to be built. The great-grandson and builder/artist behind the Brooklyn/London
Telectroscope would like us to believe those tunnels were built and that he's brought his great grandfather's invention to life. I'd like to believe it too, but in this day of video conferencing, web cams and satellite imagery, I tend to think a bit of modern technology has helped bring the Telectroscope to life.
Regardless of how it's working, if you're in New York City and have a message for someone in London...or you just want to see what's happening across the pond at the very moment you're in New York...or you just want an excuse to go over to the Brooklyn side of the Bridge (maybe for Pizza or ice cream) then I recommend checking out the Telectroscope. It's better than having a Fiddlehead, that's for sure.
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