Mar 242012

17 June 2011


Wild life


Here are the bears in Central Park.

It was a jolt, a reminder to one who is perpetually imagining places before, before us. There would have been bears in these woods.

When these were woods.

It’s been quite a surprise to me how little animal life there is in New York City, right from the start.

One day, early in the visit, I heard a warble soaring above the traffic in downtown Manhattan. I looked up, searching for the culprit and there was the tiniest little bird sitting on a street sign, singing for the world.

Pigeons there are some, even almost many in certain places, such as Washington Park. And of course there was Fluffy the squirrel and I’m sure Fluffy is not alone.

There are the rats. Apparently the rats in NYC are the size of dogs. The woman who warned me of this also warned me of eating in NYC restaurants.

Here’s a lionised rat I saw on the back of a ute yesterday.

Scary, huh.AND THEN. I was sitting in Central Park, again surprised by the absence of animals, waiting for Gabrielle. And I saw something I have never seen in my life. Something I would never, ever expect to see in a city.A hawk.The hawk that shot from the sky and pinned a black and white feathered bird to the bare ground.Best I show you.

The hawk flattened every breath the bird had yet to take until it was limp and still. Then flew off, its prey floppy in its claws.

Today was a walking walking walking kinda day. The only sitting I did was with Gabrielle, who met me in the park.

She told me that this building, which we could see from our Central Park bench, was the famous building in Ghostbusters.

And that this building is where John Lennon was shot.

There were a few things I planned to do today, like small visits to Bloomingdales and the Walforf Astoria, iconic New York things to do if I have time, but I’d walked so far to meet Gabrielle in Central Park I decided to ditch them and head home.

As I strolled down Lexington looking for the subway, I got into my head that I’d walk to Grand Central Station. Even though I’ve caught the subway to Grand Central, I always figured I was missing something . . . well . . . grand! And I figured that to find it I’d have to enter from the street.

So I walked 40 city blocks.

And on the way I spied the wonderful strings of shopping that have eluded me, I walked past the Waldorf Astoria, I ducked into Bloomingdales and had a sulky girl put makeup on me, mainly because I couldn’t think of anything else to do when I got in there.

I walked past a human art installation in an empty shop window stopping the rush hour commuters in their tracks.

They were rolling down the wall, very, very slowly.

And then I found Grand Central Station, which is called Grand Central Terminal according to the words carved into the stone on the building’s facade. What a building! This is the kind of building you build when you want people arriving in your city – remembering that rail was the only prestige way to travel – and you want them to know they Have Arrived somewhere.

40 city blocks. I couldn’t have done that when I arrived in this wild and wonderful Somewhere.