Central Park, New York

New York is legendary. The thing of thousands of stories. Central Park is …well…central to many of these stories. Police dramas where unsuspecting joggers get murdered or raped on one of the winding pathways to romances like When Harry Met Sally. A quick search of the internet throws up several web pages that give you a list of movies made in Central Park. Have a look here for a start. http://www.centralparktoursnyc.com/central-park-movie/

Since being in New York I have visited the Park a lot. My lodging location helps, I’m just across the road. (Thanks again RJB!!) The pace of my morning jog has been slowed right down as I have stopped to take photos of early morning reflections in the ponds and the reservoir.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a picnic on Sheep’s Meadow and indulged in some serious people watching. On this, the first hot sunny day of spring, puffer jackets were replaced by bare chested men playing spike ball (see this video – I had never seen it before https://youtu.be/jdRKqguEbas)

The blossoms trees had blossomed and the bees were a-buzzing. Clusters of daffodils, jonquils and crocus had survived the previous week’s snow to brighten things up.

The less active, lay around on the grass reading or sleeping.

To think only five days ago the flowers were buried by snow.

I can see why this enormous Park is labelled New Yorker’s front yard. It’s a place to play and relax. A place to meet a place to zone out. A place to remember green.

A very public proposal

There I was minding my own business sitting on the basalt steps at the Pebble Beach between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges waiting for sunset and along comes a man and woman carrying a double sized white rocking chair. They plonked it down and started rocking in the last rays of sun before it dipped behind the skyscrapers.

The sign on the fence said “No pets or furniture can be brought into the park.” When I first saw that sign I thought “goodness who would bring furniture” but obviously it’s a thing.

Next along comes the Photography Tour Group. They set up their forest of tripods in front of the rocking chair. The rocking chair people moved their chair to one of the lower steps, but to the side of the camera group. At first I thought they were together but no, just there at the same time.

As I watched the wedding parties and engagement photo shoots all looking for a divine sunset to silhouette the bridge and provide a perfect back drop, I forgot the chair people.

My attention came back to the them when I saw the original couple slink off away and leave the chair empty. It was soon taken up by another man and woman who sat there chatting, when all of a sudden, he got down on one knee with a ring. The camera club turned in unison and quickly adjusted their focal lengths. At first, the girl looked a bit confused. She seemed oblivious to the hoard of people watching them. Then tears, hugs and kisses. Many, many kisses. She had obviously said yes. The crowd all around burst into spontaneous applause and cheers.

The couple suddenly became aware that they were the centre of attention. More tears, more hugs.

The original chair carriers appeared out of the crowd. There was backslapping and thank you’s from the groom-to-be and “Did you now about this??” from the bride.

It was obvious then that the man had planned this very carefully with his friends. Perhaps he hadn’t expected the camera club to be there but in the end they had better photos than the friend who had tried to take shots from a distance, so emails where exchanged. These photos are a re-enactment. They decided they needed some more photos of their own so turned the chair around and did it again. A bit of over-acting, but still very touching.

The tear-jerking moment for me though was when the girl called her Mum to let her know. You could see (and hear) her waiting for mum to pick up and the call going through to a message bank. She looked so disappointed. Then seconds later mum calls back. More tears!

Floods of happy tears.

There was no spectacular sunset that day. It ended up very overcast and cold, but I felt a little warmer for watching this bit of love. I wish this happy couple lots of luck and hope that the groom stays as thoughtful for the rest of their marriage.

Pintrest towns.

Coastal Maine is why they invented Pinterest. So the inhabitants could show off their impossibly gorgeous weatherboard homes with the cute (non-Christmas) wreaths on the doors and the American flags fluttering in the breeze. I have not stopped to take many photos because if I did, I would be here until Christmas (Christmas 2020 that is!!) Despite that I will always carry the images in my heart. The contrast shutters against the (usually) pastel boards with the occasional white on dark blue or black boards to spice things up.

On my journey from New York to Kittery and onwards to Bar Harbor, Google maps directed me to take the interstate highways, which while fast, did not give any interesting vistas so I chose the ‘avoid motorways and tollways’ options when asking for directions. A T-mobile SIM card gave me good GPS coverage all the way. A three hour sprint at 110 kph became a five hour stroll through towns that can only be described as quaint. White church steeples, 1880-style brick and tile shop fronts with the occasional verdigris copper detail.

Rugged, craggy beaches with moraine rocks are in stark contrast to the squeaky smooth sandy beaches of home. Layer on layer of whole shells rather than smashed, tiny pieces of mollusc homes confirm the more peaceful waves which wash up on the blackened gritty sand.

White gulls outweigh their Australian counterparts by at least 2 kilos and share the beach with ducks, geese and turns.

The humans are bundled up in coats and scarfs not bikinis and boardies and it’s hard to imagine that it could ever warm up enough to warrant the beach-wear in the now closed shop windows.

“Closed for the Season” rang out from nearly every establishment. I guess with snow still lying in dirty patches on the ground and while spring may have officially arrived on the calendar, there are still at least a few weeks till its warm enough to abandon the winter woolies.

Portsmouth, one of the oldest towns in the US is so far, the star. Ogunquit and Old Orchard Beach may perhaps be splendid holiday destinations in summer but they don’t show their best side in winter. At least not for someone who has golden sandy beaches in walking distance to home. Nonetheless, coastal landscapes and fishing towns will always lift my spirit, perhaps they will do the same for you,