Published: June 23rd 2011April 23rd 2011
I have a difficult time deciding on a favorite season, but when it comes to spring in New York I must admit that for all the pros, I can think of very few cons. Flowers everywhere
, with such a vibrancy as everyone slowly emerges from a season of black wool and boots to colorful sundresses and sandals. A time when picnics supplement dinner reservations and productivity slowly gives way to long, meandering walks in the park.
After months of dismal weather the sun emerged over the weekend showering the streets with a explosion of petals as trees burst forth with blooms and buds. Because I've been in "thesis mode" for the past several weeks, it took a little convincing from Andras to put down the books, step away
from the keyboard, and emerge from my academic cocoon into the broader world around me. Also I needed to take some photos of popular culinary tourist destinations in NYC so I was able to justify a few days out and about seeing the sights (which I'll blog about shortly). And whoa! Such vibrancy happening down below that in a blink will be gone as the heat-waves of summer slowly take over.
As the weather warmed we started off in Central Park, admiring the palate and hues of the season. That's one thing I love about this city come spring - every street lined with planter boxes full of flowers. First daffodils and hyacinths in March, than the tulips and hydrangeas in April. Every neighborhood street with its own unique combination of color. Ours was lined with simple red tulips which splashed the sidewalks with life until wind, dogs, children or hooligans (possibly all the above) tromped them down to bits. Only our street though, none of the rest, which was disappointing to say the least.
Anyhow, Central Park is the hub of all things outdoors in Manhattan. It's over 800 acres of birdwatching, nature photography, trees to climb, picnics and ballgames, long walks and boating on the lake all situated between 59th and 110th St – need I say more? So many recognizable landmarks and places to visit that the park can naturally turn into a destination of sight-seeing, but more practically it functions as the backyard for many of the 1.6 million residents of the urban island, including us. And for what it lacks in privacy (no wooden fences
shielding your activities from the neighbors here!) it makes up for in other ways. I certainly never had a lake in my backyard growing up, for instance.
There are times when the line for rowboats out of The Boathouse winds around the sidewalk, and I was worried that as this was one of the first warm weekends of the season we would get caught up in the wait, but as we arrived less than an hour after it had opened, for the first while we practically had the lake to ourselves. The gentle breeze, the ducks floating by, the turtles popping up their heads every now and then – it can make you forget you are in the middle of such large city! Andras rowed us to the far reaches of all the inlets of the lake, deftly navigating us between the boughs of a willow tree at one point for a very romantic privacy (think that scene in Disney's Little Mermaid
). Of course, nothing blush-worthy was going on – we didn’t want the boat to tip and have our escapade end the same way! By the time I “took the reins” (or oars, rather) the lake was getting
Spring in Central Park
Flowering cherry trees near Belvedere Castle. In mid-April
rather crowded, so much so that when trying to pass back under Bow Bridge there were six (6!) boats all at once and it caused quite a bit of congestion. Our entire exploration took a little over an hour, and less than $20. So much cheaper than I expected it to be, and worth every cent.
Afterward we headed to Cedar Hill, my favorite spot for a picnic, where the crowds aren’t as prolific as in the Great Lawn, the sun is at your back by midday and you have beautiful views of the Upper East Side skyline. At certain times of the day you can even catch the melody of one of the street musicians, usually a jazz band, wafting up from down below. Not too loud to interfere with the birds, not too soft that you have to strain to see if you heard right. We had brought along some sandwiches from Zabar’s, a well-known Manhattan gourmet grocer located near the park though I hear that Agata & Valentina now deliver sandwich boxes to
the park itself. I knew food delivery in Manhattan was something unlike anywhere else in the country but really - they'll deliver to
a park? I'm half tempted to give it a try just for the novelty (incidentally, the exact same reason I placed an order from McDonalds for delivery shortly after moving here. That chain morphs into whatever the local populace demands and here, well that equates to picking up the phone and having someone bike over and hand you your food I guess). We attempted some self-timed portraits, but they were all for naught. I think we’re just a bit too impatient to capture our candid moments (certainly makes you think, doesn’t it?). Ha!
Cedar Hill is also home to my favorite
tree of spring - two beautiful cheery trees whose large boughs shade some nearby rocks and shower the ground below in a dusting of pink petals. I could not resist dancing around in the snowflakes of spring. Closer to Bethesda Terrace, Andras grabbed my hand and pulled me over to somewhat secluded area, where in the middle was one solitary flowering Kwanzan cherry tree. With his encouragement (and a bit of a boost) I was soon hoisted up in the upper branches, surrounded by walls of pink. Spectacular.
It was great to get out. Andras has been
going for runs in the park routinely, and getting to explore the area while I've mostly been holed up indoors with the books. New York City, and Central Park in particular, tends to magnify the seasons - and living the majority of life in a place that doesn't have
four seasons, it makes you both look forward to and want to take advantage of the variances in the natural state of things as much as possible. But spring this year came late, and I imagine will be short lived. I sense the hot, humidity of summer just around the corner.
There are more photos below