I’m fairly certain I can’t write anything new about Central Park. Every poet as rhymed it, every romantic has dreamed it. It really is everything you’ve heard about it: sprawling, diverse, alive with both nature and the city it serves.
This weekend, I found myself wandering the Park in search of a spot to read. I’d come down with a touch of a cold and hoped the fresh air and a bit of sun would clear my head (and nostrils). Entering at Columbus Circle as I always do (yes, I’ve been there enough already that I can say it’s what I always do), I walked in towards the Carousel and then further along, finding my way to the Literary Walk at the south end of The Mall.
It’s a fairly short walk, only taking you about a third of the way into the seemingly endless greenspace. But along the way, I passed so much activity I could barely keep up with the changing sounds and scenes. It helps that it was a beautiful summer Saturday, but I have a feeling the Park is host to a constant stream of happenings.
I passed every kind of instrument, the performers hoping for your spare change – saxophone and trumpet, a drum set and guitar. Near the bench I settled on to read for a spell was a violinist who alternated between the likes of Adele and Ave Maria. Live concert-worthy violin while I took a spot on a bench beneath bronze sculptures and watched toddlers toddle in their sunhats and cyclists escort their two wheels by between pages in my book.
A team in one field plays baseball; a few hundred feet away, volleyball. And further on, in a small, private space, bocce ball. There’s a group over there doing yoga, and a group down the way breaking a sweat with a boombox turned to 11 keeping the beat. The music from the carousel blends with the sounds of ice cream sellers calling out to the people going by that blends with the clip-clop of the horses pulling tourists in their carriages.
And the dogs! So many dogs! Small dogs are practically a required accessory around here, far as I can tell. Some are adorable puffs of fur, tiny legs skittering quickly along to keep up with their owners’ long strides. Others are less endearing, more critter like, but have nonetheless found a happy home with their masters. It’s the big dogs I’m most taken with. I can only imagine the space their humans must have to house them – german shepherds, labrodoodles, hounds of all kinds. I imagine they live in high-rise penthouses with rooms to themselves that are bigger than my whole apartment. They’re gorgeous creatures obviously having the fine time trotting around the lawns, chasing balls and frisbees and finding trees to mark as their own.
Having read quite a bit, I started walking again, this time down The Mall towards music I could hear but couldn’t place just yet. As I approached the bandshell, I realized the sound was coming from a live band, music to entertain the crowds wandering an outdoorsy-themed fair that’d popped up just before the resplendent Bethesda Terrace and Fountain.
Walking back, I veered to the east side of the Park and wandered towards the Zoo, walking around the entryways a bit, but saving a trip inside for later, perhaps with an out-of-towner here to see me as much as the city. I walked back towards Columbus Circle along Central Park South, surprised to realize just how long a walk it was, even for the “short” end of the Park.
In the span of twenty or so blocks, I’d seen at least a dozen different live musicians, rows and rows of portraitists and souvenir tables, every type of dog out for a walk, every type of sport being played, and more joggers than I could possibly count. Sculptures at every turn, bodies of water popping up beyond the rocks and groves of trees. A puppet theatre. A garden populated with the flowers of Shakespeare’s plays.
I suppose it could be a bit of an overload to the senses, but I find it quite the opposite. I find it invigorating, I find it exceptional. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself taking many more Saturday walks through Central Park.