A walk down Forbidden Drive (origin of its name: you were forbidden to drive there. isn’t that the most prosaic explanation of an exciting name that you’ve ever heard?) led us to two fantastic new places:
Bruno’s Diner. When the girls at the stables at Fairmount Park’s north end told us we couldn’t use the equestrienne bathrooms but “There’s a diner at the end of the road,” the inconvenience of me having to pee every 10 minutes became a blessing. Bruno’s is awesome. The big outside front porch must be heavenly in summer, to watch fireflies and swat mosquitoes and wait for the bats to come out in the evening. Still winter, though, on this peaceful sunlit day, chilly even with surprising warm gusts of snow-and root-scented air coming up from the ground. We found the second, glassed-in front porch perfect for our purposes. The gray wood and jukebox and no-frills rickety chairs made it feel like a been-around-forever shabby beach-side diner.
The waitress seemed like a busy older sister and urged cokes upon us and took good care of the large older man in a stained sweater and black sneakers who looked like he had seen better days and may have come to Bruno’s on many of them.
The banana split served to the young family nearby stretched absolutely colossal in its glass dish. Matt’s burger was big, my diet coke came in a satisfyingly wide glass with lemon.
And the fries, cut round, were served with special two-prong wooden forks that you used to spear them and pop them in your mouth (the most uni-purpose utensil I have ever seen.) I asked the mustached manager what they were called. He brought us a box of them – “two-prong wooden forks,” the label said. The picture was of the forks spearing a fry. He told us that the factory had actually discontinued them, because Bruno’s was literally the only person buying them, but that he had found another supplier.
When I left, I went to buy a gumball from the penny-a-gumball machine – and when I didn’t have a penny, a gentleman sitting at the counter gave me one. I got pink!
Bruno’s is a must-return. Who will join us for a day-long hike up and down the Wissahickon Gorge – with lunch at Bruno’s? The banana split is on me.
The Great Beech.
The Great Beech is a grand old lady tree, grand enough that people decided they would make a sign with her “name” on it. She does not really give a leaf about signs. She has a silvery smooth bark and many branches the size of tree trunks themselves, so wide that her root system creates a sort of sofa at the base of the trunk. She is a very calm and strong tree, and she welcomes visitors in her branches with lots of nobbly bits to brace feet on and wrap hands around. Many of her nobbles look like breasts and nipples, some look like elbows. In some places, her branches have met and grown together in arcs. She is an arbol to come visit when you feel sad or afraid. I have a feeling that an hour curled up in one of her big branches could heal a lot of ills.
And both of these places are in Philly! Hooray for this crazy mixedup city.