West Side Rag » Hope Springs Eternal, A Love Letter to Central Park

Posted on April 15, 2022 at 8:48 am by West Side Rag


Photographs by Jules Watson.

By Jules Watson

Every year for hundreds of years against all odds,

despite torrential rain and soul sucking winds and
dark howling storms

Somehow
Hope still springs eternal in New York City

And infinitesimally tiny and perfect translucent celery colored seeds and leaves battle and slink their way through the earth until they burst through the wet and trodden ground to greet us once again…

This rebirth, this metaphorical chance we have every year to begin anew

This is Spring.

When we long for our magnificent Central Park

As the sunlight dances and shimmers like diamonds on the Reservoir as ducks and their fledglings sail by,

The reflection of our city’s exalted architecture smooth like glass

As you hear baby bird song in the Ramble and the delicate new leaves rustle in the wind and seem to murmur just to you

and the bleat of a baby lamb at the zoo with impossibly kind eyes holds your gaze for what seems like hours

As the glorious tangle of young vulnerable buds in the Shakespeare Garden seduce a hummingbird

And the Whispering Bench draws you in to test its mysterious powers and you realize yet another year has flown by

As Strawberry Fields fills with families and best friends here on their Spring holidays chattering away in different languages, furiously gesturing as they take photographs, whilst the sound of children laughing echoes, you wonder if the distant tune of “Let it Be” is real or just in your mind

As the toy boats at Model Boat Pond glide

And the kites in Sheep’s Meadow fly high

And the rowboats weave and bobble after a long cold lonely winter under arched bridges who whisper welcome back…

As you wander past rippling brooks amid dappled sunlight’s caress

And you pause to gaze out and take a breath

to lean against one of the many splendid twisted fences, gnarled and smooth under your hand, your face in the sun, you ponder how many spirits have stood in this very spot over a hundred years…

As the cherry blossoms float on a breeze and the carpet beneath is dusty rose velvet

And the clippity-clop of royal purple horse drawn carriages swoon past and the mouthwatering fragrance from your childhood of cotton candy engulfs you

And the music plays
Amid the late afternoon Spring haze

You smile and you sway

You long to be back on your favorite white and gold and cherry red toy horse at the Carousel, where the haunted giggles of times gone by and the organ tunes waft around you and there isn’t a care in the world

And like every year, you are assaulted by memories of your youth, and you feel an urgent need to visit the grand statues of Central Park, who greet you like old friends through the imposing black gates into the exquisite Conservatory Gardens….

you nestle into the cool shade of the Burnett fountain, where the tale of The Secret Garden leaps into your mind, and you are flung back in time to Mary and Colin’s innocent secret world

and stand very still enraptured by the dancing maidens with their chiseled and wild and joyful faces who dare you to join them in their unabashed frolics

and you stroll down past the Mad Hatter, standing guard since 1959 as untold hordes of ecstatic children climb into Alice’s worn but shiny lap, lost in a daydream hoping to absorb her bewitching magic

As the last afternoon breeze makes fields of tulips like giant gumdrops undulate to and fro

And the lampposts’ early evening glow casts its amber sheen on lovers

And the music in the park surrounds you and you feel like you are in a movie, not real life

And, on cue, a perfect chilled martini makes its way to you as you sink into the moss green tufted banquettes at the bar at Tavern on the Green

And the twinkle lights come up

Later, as you wander home through the enchanted forest that is Central Park you smile, and consider this gift, that has landed at your feet, like a present wrapped in emerald green satin ribbon on your birthday.

Every Spring you are amazed that it is in fact, a gift that lasts your whole life long.

A gift that reminds us that even in this treacherous period we are living through, as a community and a society,
that the loyalty and the collective consciousness of the
ever mystifying plant world has remained true and strong and is back again to hypnotize us with its beauty

To calm us from our fears

To charm a new generation of children as a sacred bumble bee once again sucks the sweet nectar out of a blossoming magenta flower so rich in its hue you draw in a breath

To remind us that mankind must continue to honor and protect the natural world as it unwaveringly has protected us.

All of this delectable beauty and wonder

Yours…to save alone, or to share…

every day, every season

This park…

That nurtures our soul

And keeps hope alive

And brings people together

And creates cherished memories

Here’s to joyous Spring in New York!

And our precious Central Park

There’s nothing in the world quite like it…

Aren’t we lucky?

Jules Watson is the poet who gave us, Coming Home: A Love Letter to the Upper West Side.

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