Saturday, May 17, 2008

Whistle a Happy Tune

So I was starting to fear this blog was getting very Walt Disney, with me prancing along as I sang about flowers and butterflies and puppies. "How much of this do my internet buddies really need," I thought. "Most of them have gardens of their own, they don't need to look at flowers I didn't even plant."

Then I cast my mind forward to the Summer and realized that chances are very good I'll spend a lot of time snarling and spitting on the blog when the weather turns sweltering. Some of you might agree I've been a bit too Mr. Rogers of late, but come July you may be taking up an online collection to have me sedated. Or at least muzzled.

So I decided I'd gush about another great walk, and show you more things I thought were pretty. Come, hold my hand as we skip cheerfully through two more of New York's parks.

The pansies above record the first time I and the camera agreed on the shade of purple on the very first try. They're also a partial answer (a resounding 'yes') to Gillian's question as to whether I love purple pansies. An even stronger response is at the bottom of the page. In that photo I'd say most of the blossoms are the shade my eye saw, though a few are more blue than they should be. No idea what made the difference there; they all seemed lit the same way to me. The conversation with my camera goes on.

Pink is a shade to which I am largely indifferent, since I consider it nothing more than pastel red, and most pastels leave me cold. I'm rethinking this stance however, especially as I see more shades of pink that edge close to purple. On Thursday my walk took me through St. Nicholas and Morningside Parks. I smelled these roses (above) before I saw them; the scent was unmistakable. It's easy to forget why people make such a fuss over roses, when all one comes in contact with are the scentless ones sold in the stores. I do find the scent glorious. Maybe that inclined me to be more appreciative of the color. It's awfully cheerful, don't you think? The flowers to the right are in Morningside Park. They had no scent I could discern, but having been enticed in by the roses earlier, I was able to appreciate them more readily too.

While the camera seems reluctant to give purple its due, I discovered that day that it loves dramatic skies. In fact I'd say it makes things look more dramatic than they actually were. I think I've remarked before that just as I need greenery on a regular basis, I've finally realized I also need big sky, and far-off horizons. Not until it's lifting do I notice how much I am suffering from urban claustrophobia.

Thursday was a windy day, with threats of storms, and I was walking after 5pm, so the sun was at an exciting angle. Several times I saw something that looked almost like a monochrome Toledo; the image above comes the closest. Okay, I went a little apeshit on the cloud photographs, but I'll just share two of my favorites. The sense of space made me expand.

In Morningside I visited one of my favorite sculptures. I was one of those kids who fell in love with Greek mythology at a very early age, reading gentle, child-friendly version of those raw, primal stories. That, and Disney's Fantasia, led me to identify particularly with fauns. (I also adored Amazons, which led me to adore Wonder Woman. I'm less clear on what that says about me now.) As with violets and purple, over the years I've learned more adult-only reasons why I, as a nature-loving homo, might have a special bond with fauns. Their connection with Pan, and by association Dionysus, is just one. The first time I ever saw this statue, I especially appreciated that it was a faun and a bear. My boyfriend at the time adores bears (the animal, though he has no objection to the gay kind that I know of), so I liked the fact that here was an image that combined two of our respective icons. I looked forward to telling him about it; then it hit me. We had just ended a five year relationship the night before. I was out walking, in fact, in order to clear my head and exhaust my body because of the break-up. This was the first, but by no means the last time I would see something, make a note of it to share with him later, then have the crashing recollection that we weren't really sharing those little moments anymore. He and I have evolved a good friendship, thankfully. He's still one of my favorite people. I think this was the first time I was able to look at the statue without feeling sad, though. Such funny gauges of change and healing I have.

At first I wasn't sure if the bear was cornering the faun, or just waving hello. I'm still not completely sure, but nothing about the faun's expression or body language makes me think he's frightened. Enlarge the image for yourselves, and tell me what you think. Bears were sacred to Artemis; fauns, as I said, were sacred to Pan and Dionysus. All three were nature deities. I'm not aware of any special animosity between any of them, though Artemis was something of a loner, while Dionysus loved a good party. There's a story about how amethyst was created that involves them both.

Yes, I realize I'm spinning far too much out of this little fountain; it's what I do. There does seem to be some fun story there, though, don't you think? Oh yes, it's a working drinking fountain, see the lower right in the first picture. Nice of the faun to be looking after some one's hat. It's clearly not his; there are no holes for his horns.

Near to the fountain is a small pond. I attempted to photograph some turtles swimming, and got this result instead. This may have been what tipped me off to try the sky photos.

Below is the pond, and a view of the little cascade. I love water in all its forms, with special mention for waterfalls. Maybe it's the flat-lander's appreciation of elevation changes. Maybe it's my love of water combined with my love of movement. (Mountain streams please me in a way that big lazy rivers don't.) Whatever it is, they are magical to me. The statue is just around the corner on the right.

Below you can actually see a couple of the turtles. Someone who knows more about this than me says they're red-eared turtles, which are not indigenous; they're probably former pets that were dumped here for some reason.

I've seen them swimming about in all seasons, so they appear to be surviving just fine, while not destroying the habitat. There appear to be dozens of them in the pond. I have occasionally seen a white heron here too; I assume it's the same one I would occasionally see at a pond in Central Park, about thirty blocks south of here. If it's two different herons, I hope they know about each other.

Seinfeld - and Suzanne Vega- fans may recognize this diner. I passed it on my way home from Morningside Park.

Hmm. Dramatic clouds, nice scents, waterfalls, purple, fauns... some of my favorite things all packed into one lovely saunter. And I didn't even show you the (impossible to see) duck photo, nor the (blurry) photo of the flute player on the train home. He was playing a familiar song but I don't know the name. You know, the one that goes "la da da da DA dada, la de dada da..." I think it's Mozart. Or maybe Bartok. Philip Glass? No, definitely Mozart.
Yeah, I'm definitely in Chipper-Charlie mode for the time being. Today is grey, cloudy, and ten degrees below the average temperature for this time of year. I couldn't be more delighted. Tell me to come read this post in a few weeks when I'm spitting nails and you want to hit me with a brick. I still have to tell you about yet another soul-restoring dinner with good friends that occurred on Saturday. That, like the park walks, seems to be turning into one of this blog's leitmotifs. For now.


Greg said...

How delightful to see you all Disney-fied and zippedy-do-dah and all, enjoying spring in New York's green spaces!! We'll be sure to point you back to this when the time is right.

Hey, I didn't know you were a Wonder Woman fan!!! That was my gateway to mythology, actually. Love the faun and bear really looks to me more like the bear's making a cute surprise entrance rather than trying to scare the faun. Maybe it's *his* hat.

Those pinky-purple flowers from Morningside are perennial geraniums, also known as cranesbill. Beautiful, ain't they? I'm jealous that your roses are already blooming...but I know that means aren't far off!!

Great cloud photos and turtles...and Purple!!!

Carpe diem! (you clearly have!)

Java said...

How thoroughly gay and delightful! It is sunny and bright here today, but I'm inside so I'm cool. The kids just got home from school and they are sweating, so I'm going to stay inside and enjoy the cool while looking out the window at the sun. Life is good.

Congrats on your purple! Glad you and the camera came to terms with that color for these photos.

somewhere joe said...

Just the kind of walk I like... hearts and flowers, purple and pink, darkening skies, a duck into the woods, a passing shower, a fawn, a bear, a touchstone, a gazing pool, then back to the city, neon and stone. I love your little pansy-puppies snuffling around at the beginning. Isn't nana in there somewhere?

May I suggest that the bear heard the fawn's pipes and came running. Now fawn has put it down so they can talk, picking it up again when he reappeared on the train. Mozart / Bartok / Glass! What an intoxicating brew that is.

It strikes me that you could have an outing like that in most large cities... but only one. NY has so many. Your new photologue is the best yet. More. More hip hops down these trails and niches in the seasons to come.

tornwordo said...

I dig the spring song you're singing. And I have two words for you. Air. Conditioning.

Cooper said...

Reading this lovely post gives me the same joyful dizzying feeling I get when I tip my head back and stare at a sky full of stars. Alive like the heart of a mountain stream ...

The bear shadows the faun on stealthy paws offering him protection, drawn by the heart music like Ratty and Mole in Wind in the Willows, sitting in that boat, worshipping, trembling at the beauty of nature's voice.

"So I was thinking,' murmured the Rat, dreamful and languid. 'Dance-music— the lilting sort that runs on without a stop— but with words in it, too— it passes into words and out of them again— I catch them at intervals— then it is dance-music once more, and then nothing but the reeds' soft thin whispering."

Such is your tune, dear, Patrick.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Don't worry Patrick, post what you want, there is nothing wrong with a little beauty.

What is it with gay men and pansies! ;P

Butch said...

I can never get too much of the purples and blues of Nature in the Springtime. Of course, I would never turn down any of those other bright colours the plants love to wear and display. Please continue taking pictures of what ever catches your eye. Following your pictures is like going on the same walk with you.

Jess said...

There's something else you and Marc have in common. He LOVES waterfalls. Actually, so do I, but he has taken us on trips (and even a hike on the Appalachian Trail) in search of waterfalls!

Yet another lovely post from a lovely soul!

Birdie said...

The elements in motion are a magnet to the soul: water, air, fire. There is something redeeming in putting yourself in their gentle company.

I guess I shouldn't be so astonished at the number of blogs showing blossoms. It certainly heralds the spring. (Around here, the color of May is black and white: race flags. We have a passing nod to Memorial Day; but it's Race Day: "Gentlemen, start your engines.")

Thank you for the beautiful stroll through the city.

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

C and I spend a huge amount of time in Central Park, and when we're adventurous, we put the bikes on the subway and head up north to the Heights. Living, as we do, in a small space in the Lincoln Center neighborhood, these parks and the waterfront are really like a backyard, and people who live in the city but don't use them run the risk of insanity.