Monday, March 19, 2012

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York on this last day of winter.  Winter has been so mild, and the temperature today was more like early summer.  Very odd indeed, and a perfect time to take another of those new hybrid bendy buses across the Park to meet a friend.  We were going to see some art.

This is officially Asian Art Week in New York, and many East Side galleries have given their spaces over to art dealers who specialize in art from various Asian land, mostly from prior ages,  and some contemporary.  If you all wish to learn more about this have a look at the Asia Week site.

After seeing some beautiful Japanese woodblock prints, baskets and ceramics, it was time for lunch.  After lunch and lots of catch up chatting, we visited a few more galleries, and then, it was time to head over to Central Park to see how much more was now in bloom, compared to my last walk.

You can see the clear blue sky and the pretty green that is returning to the lawns.  The tips of many tree branches are now tipped with new leafing actions.  The overall effect is gorgeous!

Forsythia is usually a very early spring signal, but this year all the signals are getting juggled together by Mother Nature.

Many of you might already know that Central Park is an artificial landscape designed many years ago by wise men who knew what they were doing.  The Park has hills, slopes, dips, curves.  There are many pathways and very few straight lines.

Most paths are for pedestrians only, sometimes they pass under roadways that allow motor vehicles and bikes and rollerblades.

The tulip magnolia trees are not waiting for the calendar to say it is spring.  They are ready to go right now!

There are lots of sculptures throughout the Park.  The picture above is of the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, just north of the model boat pond.  The photo below is of the Hans Christian Andersen sculpture just west of the model boat pond.  Children of all ages love these sculptures.

Climbing and photographing has been going on around here for many years.  Dogs often wait patiently.

Abundant forsythia crowns the over/underpass shown above.

The photo below shows the boat house restaurant (where there seems to have been a recent settlement to a long standing union action against the restaurant owners.  The shouting and drumming of the demonstrations have ceased, as spring comes to the lake.  Anyone with money can hire a row boat.

There are many willow trees along the east side of the Lake.  This makes for a very romantic setting.  

The trees also create very beautiful shadows.

The Bethesda Fountain Plaza is at the southern end of the Lake.  This gentleman might think that fish are available.  I am not so sure.  It is definitely possible to catch a sun tan/burn around here.

Even though the unseasonable warmth is encouraging tulips to join the mix, there are still many daffs putting on their show.

If you have lots of energy, like my friend and I did after our excellent lunch, you can take a walk through the wooded area at the northern end of the Lake and see parts of the Park that once upon a time might have been considered a bit risky for innocent walkers.

Now it's full of pathways full of strolling visitors, who will see areas not so manicured, and large rocks near a stream.  Fun to climb, particularly for children.

It's so funny to see this sign still in place.  Anyone who could have found any ice on the Lake today would deserve a grand prize.

I could not resist taking one more photo of this exuberant forsythia.

Aren't these Lake-dwelling turtles cute.  They have climbed up onto a log that is submerged just below the water surface.  The little turtle is hoping to hitch a ride on the back of the leader of this turtle pack.

I'm including this next photo just to show the context and scale of the little turtles against the edge of the lake.

Here's just one more glimpse of the beautiful lake and its surrounds on this lovely sunny day.

 After saying bye bye to my friend, I walked home through Strawberry Fields, got over to the market for some groceries, got home and somehow refrained from taking a nap.  

It will be back to work for me tomorrow, and I will be carrying with me lots of memories of this marvelous unusual final day of winter 2012.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

I decided to return a book to the library this afternoon, and decided to walk across Central Park to the east side library location and take a crosstown bus back home.

It was a slightly overcast day, and mild enough that gloves and hat were not required as I walked along the edge of the lake, noticing which flowers had bloomed since my last walk.

There were lots and lots of snowdrops still in bloom, but the daffs had also joined the party.  In this particular part of the Park, you'll also see lots of hellebores around this time of the year.  (It's no longer February, so it seems less startling to see all these flowers.)

Lots of ducks were swimming around the Lake, and honking loudly, hoping that someone would toss them some bread crumbs.  

I took a little detour off the main pathway to get closer to this beautifully decorative cast iron pavilion.

It is my understanding that over the years, many folks have selected this place for their wedding ceremonies.  It is a very romantic setting.

Today quite a few bicycles were leaning up against the railing, while their riders were sitting on some large rocks adjacent to the pavillion.  One could sit there for a long time, contemplating the city view, the trees and the water.  It is very peaceful here at this time of the year.  Later on, in summertime, it's more crowded, and is often a place where musicians try to earn a bit of money singing old folks tunes or pop songs.  The atmosphere is very different.

I walked through the pavilion, and down the stone steps, to take some photos of this other view.  The sun broke through the clouds.

Isn't this a sweet little building?

Returning to the main path, I proceeded along to the Shakespeare Garden, and took a few photos of gentle signs of spring.

It is still hard to believe that we will be spared more frost and perhaps even snow.

A short time later, I was in the library, doing a bit exploration of the treasures to be found in the stacks.  I selected two vintage books, Stefan Sweig's Twenty-four Hours in the Life of a Woman, and Dorothy Whipple's Someone at a Distance.  When I returned to the Circulation Desk to check out the two books, a library let me know that one of reserve request books was available, and so I added the large Steve Jobs biography to my bag.

It was time to return home to the west side, and what luck...a crosstown bus appeared.  

In my last post I featured some pictures of the new hybrid bendy buses that are being deployed for the curvy Central Park transverse route.  I erred in creating the impression that these hybrids were the first bendy buses we have had in New York.

Not true.  The following photos taken today will try to show you what the non-hybrid, old-fashioned buses look like.  They hold many more passengers and are easier for passengers to navigate.  I am not sure if which bendies are easier for the drivers to navigate.

The next photo was taken from the window at my side, and shows the final uphill curve as Central Park West looms just at the edge of the Park.

Here's another view of that flexible pleating connection.

Once again looking out my window I can spot the front of the bus making a turn onto West 79th Street while my part of the bus is still on Columbus Avenue.

From the next picture you can see that these old buses have one level inside, and no elevated seats.  

And here is a clear view of the turntable that swivels back and forth.  Children love to sit on the seats in this area or even stand there for the thrill of the spin.

I exited from the rear exit, as requested by the electronic announcement, and then quickly clicked this photo of the bus exterior.  That advertisement is worrying.  I believe it refers to some upcoming cable tv movie.

I much prefer the message on the side of the bus stop, don't you?

When I got home, I did some sketching based on some of what I'd seen in the Park, and somehow resisted the temptation for an afternoon nap.  It's now time to prepare supper.

I hope that your Sunday has been as enjoyable as mine.