I walk Central Park today, or part of it. My only trip previous was last Friday, when I arrived. The place is a world, full of paths, pedicabs, bikes and women walking.
An older man rests under a passageway’s arch, playing a tenor sax well. He plays Christmas carols, the notes echoing with surreal displacement in the green heat. The two women above play ukeleles. When I first hear them they’re playing a Johnny Cash song; when I leave they have just finished Plastic Jesus (On the Dashboard of My Car).
How they manage to pedal these fully loaded is beyond me. Should I feel more for the horses, as they’re covered in fur?
Having spent most of my youth in Texas, the temperature reminds me it is only moderate. It can be much worse. In among the leaves there are cool breezes. The sun is very warm, but not punishing, not quite.
As a kid, my mother would demand we spend two weeks every summer at grandparents’ in eastern Pennsylvania. Coming from Texas I remember my surprise at how green everything would still be. I don’t remember locusts, or the dry, gritty dust at the edges of curbs where grass won’t grow in the shade. Those are here in the park and seem incongruous. I realize a criterion for where I will live is the absence of locusts. Any place that cool is on the list.
The place is full of architecture. It is its own anti-city: the structures open instead of enclose.
Two guys, one on violin and one on cello, play at the far end of this ceiling, before the fountain in the sun. They play one of the Brandenburg concertos and are very good. Weary, middle-aged women in rumpled t-shirts and shorts with oversize sunglasses supervise a group of ten-year-olds in identical red shirts. They are getting culture instead of running wild, I assume. The kids listen. One kid holds up a phone but is playing a game. Kids now can fine-tune how they are distracted. Maybe someday he’ll see, or all this will continue to be background, invisible from its ubiquity.