Yesterday was a perfect day in Central Park. Every element that that magnificent landscape designer, Olmstead. did to create a diverse, visually interesting, and people friendly place was evident.
I had started taking the M68 crosstown bus back to the west side. I guess I felt a little tired by mid afternoon of a busy day because normally, I would have walked the mile or two. As the bus approached Fifth Avenue, preparing to take a right turn on the 68th Street transverse that runs deep under the footpaths of Central Park, I hopped off impulsively.
Entering the park, I couldn't believe the number of people: tourists swinging Metropolitan Museum or Guggenheim bags, nannies pushing sleeping toddlers along the shaded path, a forty-ish man in a wheelchair pausing next to the benches while his partner rested her feet.
I walked under the first bridge, and, for the first time noticed all of the bas relief on its archway, the work of artisans a hundred years ago. Walking toward the Mall, I stopped for a minute on Literary Walk to read the inscriptions under the statues
of Robert Burns and Shakespeare.Strolling down the Mall the angle of light against the massive trees created a stippled walkway like cutout shades of light and dark.
Bethesda's Fountain, the crown jewel of the park, was in its glory, the fountain teeming with tourists, their faces turned up to catch all of the warm sun, he boaters in the distance slowly dipping their oars in the moss colored water.
Walking through the Ramble, I was amazed at how quiet it was. I think alot of tourists are a bit afraid to take it because it IS a ramble and it is easy to get lost in the maze. So, I sat awhile, listened to a cardinal sing, and imagined how long it took to create this hilly, rocky space. On the Ramble's edge, there were two Asian couples posing for wedding pictures under a giant oak.
Finally I could see the mighty Dakota. When the Dakota was built, it was so far away from the center of New York City, that it was the laughing stock of the city. No one ever thought the city would spread north as far as 72nd street!
I realized after I arrived home, that I had seen the park with new eyes. Maybe it was the fact that it was one of the first warm, truly seasonal days we have had in weeks. Maybe it was the lure of the park where there is always an adventure. Maybe it was the thrill of seeing hundreds and hundreds of people embracing the day. Maybe it was entirely metaphysical.
I don't think it much matters. I'm just grateful.