Monday, October 11, 2010

A Walk in the Park.

If there's one thing I miss in New York City, it's nature. But that was before I discovered two things: The Ramble and The North Woods.

I started my day in a conference room of the Hilton, in Midtown Manhattan. I dropped off a few resumes, met a few people, wowed onlookers at a voiceover academy booth, and entered in a couple free raffles for a free set of headshots and other assorted goodies. After picking up an inside tip on a work-exchange deal with one particular class, I headed out into the street, a couple hours earlier than I'd expected to finish.

There was a big street fair with food from all over the world. Tacos, Kebabs, and more. I spotted a sign for Colombian arepas, but, they were five dollars. To anyone who's been to Colombia, that's a bit like charging five dollars for a bagel with cream cheese. I passed. I turned uptown and started walking, towards Central Park.

I was at 55th street. Central park runs from 59th st at the downtown end to 110th at the uptown end. I'd never walked the full length of the park before. I had a few hours free. So I decided to go for it.

At first, it was the central park I'd seen, up to this point. Clipped grass, trees placed strategically, tourists and street performers walking concrete paths, and the occasional statue. But once I got a little ways past the boathouse, I passed a sign warning of rabies and animal bites, and I was in the woods. That was The Ramble.

It's not a hiking trail in the Pacific Northwest, but it was the closest I'd seen in months. According to signs I passed, it's some of the best bird watching space in the country. If the quiet older couples with camera lenses the length of my forearm were anything to go by, it lives up to its reputation. It's a woodland space of dirt, animals, birds, and plants that naturally grow there, instead of being planted by blueprint. Feeling my feet walk on uneven rocks and roots made me feel much more at home than the smooth concrete paths ever did.

The North Woods were the same way. There's a hidden entrance near the northern baseball fields. A dip into the landscape takes you into a small tunnel, echoing with burbling water. On the other side is a small forest with a wood-chip and rock path next to a stream. And the leaves are just now starting to change color.

Two hours after I'd first entered the park from midtown Manhattan, I was out again in Harlem. I needed to swing by my place before heading to a housewarming party in New Jersey. The same party where I would later get a phone call telling me I'd won the raffle for those headshots.

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