As my tandem captain and I sped around Central Park, it reminded me that this five-mile strip of flora and fauna, situated in the heart of Manhattan, has played a major role in our lives.
Imagine a February where the trees are bare and snow and slush lay on the ground like a path to Grandma’s house. Add to that huge orange, fabric gates dotting the landscape and you have a rambling art installation that had even the most jaded New Yorkers buzzing. Some thought it whimsical; others grumbled that it was a waste of money. We loved it and took many fantastic photos with our newly-purchased digital cameras. We were even given a piece of a gate once they were taken down. I was simply glad to have been able to experience art on such a grand scale.
One of our favorite groups is the all-male ensemble, Chanticleer. So it was truly thrilling to be able to hear them perform (and I do mean hear, as I couldn’t see them worth a hoot on the Great Lawn). An amazing sonic experience, you could practically hear the grass grow as they performed and when it was over, hundreds (if not thousands) of us left quickly and peacefully. Having attended at least two performances in large venues at the park, it underscores the fact that you must arrive at free events hours in advance, or you’ll be sitting in the cheap seats.
It never occurred to me that someone who volunteered to be a walking guide in Central Park wouldn’t have actually visited the park themselves. I was the unwitting test dummy who trooped around the reservoir attempting to help my hopelessly lost walking guide find the exit to the 90th Street entrance where we’d begun our walk. Ultimately, checking the street signs guided us to our destination, but that was the end of the nature walks for us. That experience definitely had me scratching my head a bit.
Constant controversy surrounds the Hansom cab rides that can be found at Central Park South, but I’ve always wanted to have the experience–and so we did, and it was quite charming. You can also ride what is known as a petty cab, which is essentially a large bicycle driven by an undoubtedly strong and capable individual. As we made our way back to the starting point, he wove through traffic at break-neck speed. Maria was not amused, but I found it exhilarating.
Last year Maria and I walked around the entire five-mile periphery of the park, purchasing hot dogs, water, and ice cream as we went along. We were absolutely exhausted upon completion, but I’d love to do it again.
If you’d like to learn more about our beloved Central Park, visit http://www.centraparknyc.org. I highly recommend visiting sometime as well.