A Walk in the Park
The October morning sun felt good as I walked toward the Ramble in Central Park, to my favorite spot near a stream where a small waterfall babbled, and a squirrel effortlessly scaled the heights of a yellowwood. Occasionally, one can play hide-and-seek there with a cardinal as it flies from branch to branch of a sycamore. Once I saw a small bird’s nest on a hackberry branch, hanging down almost to my eye level. Three tiny ever-open beaks cheeped, calling the mother bird to bring food. How I savored that precious moment—one to remember for a lifetime. Sadly, a couple of days later I found the branch and the nest removed, by whom and for what cruel reason, I don’t know. It still aches to think about it.
I sat on a bench, listening to the murmuring brook. It was peaceful and lovely all around, yet my restless mind persevered in its self-flagellation, like that of a Muslim on the pilgrimage to Mecca. I chide and remind myself that I must learn to live in the moment and that I can be a part of this sublime peace and beauty. God wills it. Perhaps a new set of brains and God’s help could bring this about, I muse. I mutter a prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
When a birdwatcher stopped by with binoculars, I got up and strolled a few steps down to the pond into which the stream flows, surrounded by thin trees and unknown shrubs. As I peered through, the reflection of the water surface seemed to reveal another world, another dimension of life. Nearby, a half-naked man exercised with gym equipment tied to a bench.
I continued toward Bow Bridge, following the path around the lake. I looked at a large rock jutting from the water near the shore, where turtles sunbathe in large numbers in summer. Just a handful of them remained, and only a small number of tourists and boaters stirred nearby, on this October day.
I walked past Tavern on the Green toward Columbus Avenue. It was filled with shoppers, diners, strollers, and vendors. Maybe we are over the pandemic? I was hopeful. After long-imposed confinement, it felt good to be in the crowd and see people smiling instead of fretting and fearful. I could imagine and empathize with a prisoner stepping outside a jail after long incarceration.
As I approached the Museum of Folk Art, I saw two older men playing string instruments under the arcade. Spectators seemed to be enraptured by the old tune, “Bésame Mucho.” They joined in when the men sang “Bye, Bye, Blackbird.” I sang along with them, swaying and absorbing the atmosphere. For a brief moment, total strangers, even those who might be harboring hate, became old acquaintances, and my busy mind rested. I was enjoying myself.