I love maps. I love everything about them, well with the exception of refolding highway maps. I love antique maps, topographic maps, even google maps with all of its inaccuracies. I can study them for hours piecing them together, memorizing. I like knowing where I am at all times. On a first time visit to a new city I will study local maps for hours preparing, even the cheesy tourist ones. I have always liked maps starting as a young child. My father got his pilot’s license when I was twelve and I was his navigator. It was my job to read the charts and lead the way. Geography was one of my favorite subjects and I mourn its absence from the American classroom. Maps are the windows to the world. They show us where we have been, how we got there and where we might yet go.
The last couple of months I have been filling in my New York City brain map, piece by piece adding neighborhoods, subway lines, streets and landmarks to my memories. Each time studying the map before and after to connect it all. One area of Manhattan that had eluded me and still challenged my ability to get my bearings at a moment’s notice: Central Park. I am ashamed to say… I don’t know Central Park. Yes, I know what all the tourists know, the areas that smell of horse or are within spitting distance of the biggies like Columbus Circle, The Plaza Hotel, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Natural History Museum. But I don’t know the heart of Central Park. I can’t tell you where to find Alice or how to see Balto, although I can get you to Strawberry Fields.
Mission: to learn Central Park.
What better day could there have been to start adding paths to the brain map than Sunday. It was the first true spring day of the season. Warm and with an overwhelming feeling of new life. The need to bust out of the dark little winter caves NYers call home (translation: the average apartment) was contagious and the park was the perfect place to be.
So after a short stop at Laduree for provisions, it was in at 72nd. Life is good, the energy was wonderful, and by the time I exited at Columbus Circle I had added the Boat Basin, the Bethesda Fountain/Terrace and a couple of other Central Park hotspots to my brain map.
May I present to you: Central Park on a glorious Sunday afternoon.
The light was perfect, so it was no wonder that every corner of the Bethesda Terrace was filled with photographers jockeying for position to capture brides, engaged couples and a few babies here and there.
A last winter holdout: life expectancy that of a mayfly destined to be like his brother below.
Yes, New York, our long slow dance with winter is finally over. Time to shed the thick coats and go dance in the park. Welcome Spring, welcome to my map.