I’ve explained how New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August, I visited there for the first time. After my first NYC taxi cab ride, we hit Central Park.
Central Park is wonderful! Starting from Central Park South where we were staying for the week, I went around The Pond, Sheep Meadow, and Strawberry Fields.
There I found The Lake, and a lovely place it was. Despite the distant honking of horns, the bicyclists and joggers whizzing by, and the thousands of other people enjoying the park, I found it easy to almost believe that I wasn’t in the middle of one of the biggest and most crowded cities on the planet. With some views that minimized the number of skyscrapers to be seen peeking over the trees, you could almost forget.
Other views, not so much. but I did find it interesting to see the contrast between the mountains of glass and steel in the distance and the tranquility of the water and trees in the foreground. This was taken from the Oak Bridge at Bank Rock Bay, at the north end of The Lake, looking south toward the buildings along Central Park South and beyond.
I was pleased to see critters! There were always plenty of minnows to be seen in the shallows, and out from the shore I could occasionally see some pretty large bright orange fish lazing along. Probably some sort of koi, if I had to guess. Once I started looking, I found flotillas of hundreds of these turtles bobbing along.
Coming back down the east side of The Lake, I passed over the Bow Bridge. Being a calm, clear, and lovely summer evening, there were plenty of folks out on the water in rowboats. Many were couples, both young and old, with the occasional family.
The most alarming part of the entire trip occurred as I crossed the bridge and heard a child start to scream like he was being axe murdered. A family was in a boat just under the bridge and the boy had seen a bee buzzing by. His family was trying to shush him and calm him down, particularly since his jumping around and panicking in an attempt to get clear of the bee was about to put them all into the drink. The bee left, the calm returned.
Rats! Yes, there were rats in the park. In fact, there were A LOT of rats in the park.
It might have been the time of day. I’m no expert on rats, but from my long ago Boy Scout days I would expect critters to be coming out to feed as night falls. Once you noticed them and became aware of their presence, they could be seen almost anywhere there was ivy, bushes, or other ground cover. They all looked very well fed, no doubt because of all of the food that was stuffed into the trash barrels. At one point we passed by a nest of them where they were coming out of a series of holes under the sidewalk. Shades of “Willard!”
More to my taste, there were a lot of birds in the park that I did not expect to see there. The usual urban sparrows, robins, starlings, crows, pigeons, and the like were all there in droves. Ducks? Okay, not totally unexpected next to a lake. But I also saw a heron and a whole flock of Canada geese.
When I got to the Bethesda Fountain, across the water was the Loeb Boathouse. No boats for us today, but on the next trip it’s high on the list. Assuming we don’t come in December, of course.
I don’t know if it was the time of day or the location (much more research needed!) but this is where I first started encountering the street musicians and entertainers. A jazz band, a guitarist, several varieties of drummers, a guy playing a mean sitar, plus things like guys making humongous soap bubbles.
Moving up onto the Bethesda Terrace and back toward The Pond where The Long-Suffering Wife was parked to relax, I saw an array of recreational activities taking place. Outdoor yoga classes, tai chi classes, running groups, an art class, tours of all sorts, what looked like a photography class, plus the herds of aforementioned Pokemon Go players.
What it reminded me most of was the arboretum I visited in Shanghai a few years ago.
When I found The Long-Suffering Wife, I found she had been making friends. The raccoon was much more semi-domesticated than the rats were. Being a cute little trash panda helps. People were trying to feed it by hand, and while it wasn’t quite tame enough for that, it did keep coming out, looking cute, waiting for food to be left for it, grabbing it, and then taking off into the bushes. The fun part after the food got put down and the area vacated by humans was to see if the raccoon could get to the treat before the rats did. Suffice it to say the raccoon didn’t look malnourished.
As dark was falling, we went on a long Hansom cab ride around the park. It was something I knew The Long-Suffering Wife wanted to do and it did offer a relaxing and entertaining view of about half the park. I didn’t get our driver’s name, but she was full of trivia and information about the park and the different sights we were passing. We did get the horse’s name (of course!) – she was Bunny.
By the time we got done with the carriage ride it was well after 21:00, but this is New York! By our internal clock it was dinner time, albeit on a very long and busy day where we had been up very early. Taking the chance that we couldn’t go too far in that part of town without running into a decent restaurant, we headed south on 7th Avenue in the general direction of Times Square. We never got anywhere close to it because there were multiple places to eat within a block or two. In the Brooklyn Deli I asked for the most “typical” New York City meal I could get for my first night there.
The pot roast was delicious!
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