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
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
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.