Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nature in New York City??

Over the Easter holiday, my Mother, my Daughters and I took a trip to New York City. Living in a relatively small town in South Carolina where the trees are abundant, and the birds are always quite lively, I was a bit apprehensive about the trip. I love living among the nature that surrounds me. I love watching the trees each spring as they begin waking from the their winter's sleep, producing their tiny little buds among the branches. I love listening to the birds each morning as they sing to me their beautiful melancholy songs. I love watching the same feathered friends through out the day as they find the earthworms among the earth, as they eat the left over pecans I have left for them over the winter. While a lot of people hate squirrels, I enjoy watching them scurry up the tree, jumping limb to limb, dodging the cats that are crouched down nearby. I love watching the sunset and if I'm up early enough, watching the sun rise. I have my own little haven of nature surrounding me, but the best surprises are when I take my daily walks through the woods. There is nothing more peaceful to me than being alone with only the sounds, and sights, the gentle touches that only nature can bring. In other words, I love everything Nature has to offer, but would I find that in New York?

I was quite overwhelmed when I saw the streets of NYC for my first time. The bright lights were absolutely gorgeous. The yellow taxis, the buses and cars that zoomed through the streets practically ignoring the pedestrians amused me. The tall skyscrapers, looking as if they disappeared into the clouds were amazing. The people that rushed past me on the sidewalks, who bumped into my shoulders with out so much as looking back to offer an "excuse me" appeared quite rude. The words of my Mother came rushing back to me as we got off the plane "you might as well forget the southern courtesy while in NY" I understood what she meant after getting bumped several times. I learned to speed up my pace a little bit, and walk as fast as the rest but I was afraid I would miss something. I was used to taking my time walking in the woods, enjoying and taking in everything my eyes could see, but New York does not give you time for that. Everything seemed to be in fast forward. I got up every morning just as the sun came up and hit the streets alone to take my morning walks while every one else slept. It was very different from my nature walks. As we drove to the airport in NC my mother said "this is the last of the trees you are going to see for a few days." My morning walks up and down Broadway on Time Square with early morning tourist, and businessmen in black suits was quite different from my walks in the woods. There was no gentle breeze across my skin, there were no sounds of birds greeting me, there were no signs of any wildlife, there were no earthly smells, there was no aroma of the spring flowers blooming, there was no peacefulness. Instead, all that I was used to had been replaced by the smell of sewage, the vibration under my feet from the subway, billboards, bright flashing signs, movie screen theatre signs, sounds of horns blowing near and far, I could hear the footsteps of people as the rushed and bumped past me. I would stop to take photos of everything but people would just bump into me almost knocking my camera out of my hand. I began to understand why you see so many blurry photos of New York City, you continuously have to move, there is no time to stop and take it all in. I was determined that I would not go home without some kind of nature shots. Surely, NYC had some kind of nature.

We took a tour bus one day for sight seeing. The bus never stopped long enough for a good photo. Once we got to a little park where you take a ferry to the statue of liberty, I saw something wonderful. There were small trees, there were a few scarce dandelions and Pigeons everywhere. I have seen pigeons before here in South Carolina, but I have never seen pigeons that would actually just walk up to you as if welcoming you to their state and I don't see pigeons every day in my own haven. I fell in love with these little creatures, they had such visible beauty, their feathers being a mix of black and dark green metallic color that shone with the sun ray's. One day while visiting the Empire State Building we stood among the 88th floor snapping photos of the big city, a pigeon landed in front me. He posed perfectly for the camera, looking directly into the lens. He let me take several shots of him before he moved along visiting other tourists.

While on the tour bus taking in all the sites, we stopped briefly in front of Central Park and I was able to get a quick glimpse and a quick shot of the beauty I saw inside the fence. Why was nature fenced in? We did not walk through central park, if we had, I'm sure I would have some beautiful photos, but I was only able to get one quick photo from afar. I kinda wish we could have walked through Central Park, but we had so much we wanted to see and only a few days to take it all in.

One evening, my daughters and I were sitting in the middle of Broadway resting our feet, and worn out bodies, a little sparrow walked right up to me. He stayed long enough for me to take his photo before he flew away. After seeing him, I realized I was starting to miss home.

Once we got back home, the streets here in Greenwood, South Carolina looked as if they were deserted after being in NYC for 3 days. When I returned to my home, the pecan trees had come alive from the winter, and were showing off their newly, bright green, young leaves. Recent rainfall had made the grass grow ankle high and such a lovely dark green. The wind blew through out my hair, and I could smell the sweet aroma of the spring flowers. The birds were singing louder than ever as if they were welcoming me back home. The chickens ran past me spotting some grub. The cats' tails weaved through my legs, they meowed and purred as they welcomed me home. The dogs began to bark excitedly,wondering where I had been for so long. A dark red cardinal perched on a branch just above me and began to sing....I had a blast in NYC but these were the sounds and sites I missed and I was glad to be home.

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Sometimes, when a bird cries out, or the wind sweeps through a tree, or a dog howls in a far off farm, I hold still and listen a long time.
We live in all things, and all things live in us.