Sunday, March 31, 2013

Love in the Park

Easter Sunday morning in Central Park, and everywhere it looks like love.  All kinds of love.  Puppy love, romantic love, spiritual love, birds-do-it-bees-do-it love, love of mankind, love of life.  Not a grumpy being on the grounds as far as my eye could least at 8 a.m.

And this was before going to church!

Inevitably any stroll around Manhattan will conjure up comparisons to Paris  - the art and architecture, the parks, the people, the culture.  In Central Park I find many of these comparisons converge.

1.  People and their dogs.  It is said that Paris is dog heaven.  But, honestly?  My vote goes to New York.  Apparently there is a law (or a loophole) that allows dog owners to let well-behaved pooches off-leash in the early morning hours in certain areas of Central Park.

And so they come in droves.  Everything from teacup terriers to Great Danes, frolicking in one happy love-fest, rolling and sniffing and delighting in each other's company, with their loving owners gazing contentedly as their beloved canines do what canines do best.  And the camaraderie among the owners is on a different plane from normal Manhattan sidewalk protocol.  They like each other and each other's pets, greet them with genuine affection, saying, "Max, sweetheart!   Go over and see my Sophie!  She has a stick!"  So endearing, so full of love and friendship.
Okay, I admit that I got a bit unnerved hearing a man shout, "Polly, stop that!" only to turn around and realize that he was talking to his border collie.

Another more...ardent love that I witnessed was a man on a bench in a semi-icky full frontal embrace with the standard poodle on his lap.  But each to his own, I guess.

I will not begin to get involved in much depth in the pooper-scooper stories and comaprisons.  Let me just say that in Paris, since almost no one picks up after their Fidos, I always walk with a careful glance to the sidewalk.  In all my time in Paris, never a squish. Seriously!   In New York, however, since you expect the sidewalks to be clean, you maybe don't pay as much attention underfoot, and --bingo!-- squish on the soles of your Italian ballerina flats on the way to church. For example.

2.  For the beauty of the earth.  Urban environments can be cold and hard and structured and unyielding.  Yet, a few steps into the park, and the city quickly melts away.  This is a beauty of Paris, too, with its many parks, pocket gardens and refreshing squares.  Today, in the Park, Spring was showing her greatest triumph over winter.
And the joy of rebirth after a long and dismal period of dim and dying. (And, alas, there are many spots where the loss of huge trees during Hurricane Sandy is painfully evident.) But also so many defiant delicate petals of sheer exuberance: "Yes, there will be spring."
Is there a heart that isn't uplifted by the sight of new spring flowers?
Harbingers of hope, of renewal and new things to come.

3.  For the splendor of the skies.  New York streets are veritable urban canyons, impressive yet sometimes daunting in their sheer pressure and overwhelming concrete-and-stone power and glory.  It is refreshing to get into open space where you can see the architectural structures from a distance.  When you are swallowed up by the buildings and the built environment, it is not as easy to appreciate them.  From the middle of the park, it is a moment of awe. Especially contrasted against the Park's Belvedere Castle, in wide-open sky.

4.  Shakespeare in love.  The Shakespeare garden.  Shall I compare it to a springtime day?
A yard for the Bard, a favorite spot in the Park.
When you see this fence, you know you're in Shakespeare country. Please let me know if you know of a fence more poetic, more romantic than this.

It reminds me in some ways of the small grotto-like pocket park just below the Trocadero in Paris.

The Shakespeare in the Park Delacorte Theater is in the background in this photo. You can draw your own comparisons (or not) to the drama of daily life at the Trocadero.

5.  Let's fall in love:  avian chapter.  Yesterday morning on the pond, two mallard drakes were loudly squawking, jabbing, and nipping at each other -- a real macho splashing squabble -- as the female duck paddled demurely on the sidelines.  Clearly she was the object of their desires for the upcoming love season, and only one of them was going to win.  A love contest!  This is no minor tale. Yesterday afternoon I ambled by again on a walk with Harry, and the two males were still sparring, drawing a bit of attention from the now-crowded group on onlookers.  Ouch.  A battle to the finish.

This morning?
One triumphant drake, one hen:  the newly hitched mallard couple paddling around the pond, ready to be the star parents of Make Way for Ducklings 2013 NYC edition.

Yes, and one loser in the alpha-battle for love, who apparently departed the territory.  Another Sunday-morning New York City love story?  Not limited to New York, of course.  It reminded me of these two love-birds in Paris.  Attached but showing slight indifference.  Ah, love.  Just ducky.

6.  Harry Loves Sally.  Or fill in the blanks.

The trees offer an outlet for a supposedly permanent expression of love.  Like a tattoo, but less personally accountable or embarrassing? Or not?
I wonder how old these are?

I wonder if any of the couples are still together?

And sometimes I think that the other, more ineffable expressions of love -- the greetings, the kisses, the pats, the hugs, the shared joy, the planting of exuberant perennial flowers for others to enjoy -- mean so much more than a moment's profession  of  heart-shaped love with a pen-knife on stolen tree bark.

1 comment:

Jill said...

hello Polly,

I have enjoyed this post, esp. as I ahve not visited here for several years. So glad to see you're still writing!

Apropos the dog waste issue, do check out the site
It is a company that has invented a gadget that turns dog waste into odourless ash.

(Im not connected with the company but I like a tidy street!)
I'm telling any dog owner I meet about this!! :)

Amities, Jill

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