Oasis in a Concrete Jungle

Rex's USA Diary

The Garden

Do you have a back garden? Do you appreciate it?

Many New York City residents do not have a private back garden. However, they share a space called Central Park - their communal back garden. For the walker, jogger, cyclist and doggie exercising community, this is their oasis in a concrete jungle.

I visited the park on a Sunday morning. Church bells were ringing somewhere beyond the tree tops. A merry-go-round had a small line of toddlers waiting for a ride. Snack shops were doing a quiet trade and I saw a jogger or two. Then two more. Then hundreds of them all pounding the pavement. I hastily got out of their way onto a side track where some doggie people had gone.

Central Park joggers

I have found that by making a noise like a peanut - sort of a chick, chick, chick sound - one can attract all manner of things out of the trees. I spotted a bit of fluff poking out from the side of one tree and with my noises managed to lure a critter out into the open. My noises lured more than a squirrel though. I must remember how I did that particular call.

Central Park friends

Now how does a squirrel get to be so darned cute? They have amazing little paws with sharp claws and they can zoom around in trees like crazy. It is a bit worrying when one races at you because you have made a peanut noise and you have short pants on and you can just imagine it climbing up your leg to get closer to the source of the peanut. But hey, these are wild animals and if they get frightened or trapped they can give a nasty bite. There are also a few cases reported of squirrels being infected by rabies - mainly as a result of a bite from a raccoon. So, no hand feeding or patting. Sorry wee fella.

A cheeky squirrel pose

There are other little gems scattered around the park. On one rocky outcrop I came across this falconer. Not something I associate with New York - more the sort of thing found in Sherwood Forest. Horses were here too - carriage rides are provided from the posher hotels on the edge of the park - probably to their chagrin. A definite barn-type smell seems to follow the horses around - as you would expect. I met more horses on one of the remoter trails - part of the NYPD mounted division. In this car crazy world, it is interesting that horses are seen as an effective means of transport for police officers.

Park falconer

Every oasis needs a watering hole and Central Park has its share. The water looks a little green when seen through the eye of a scuba diver and I wondered about the fish that people were trying to catch. If a fish were caught, would they gut, scale, cook and eat it? Probably not, but many people had their lines in the water.

Central Park lake

I sat for a while looking at this scene, then was finally lured out of the park to investigate the buildings looming up over the trees. I found I was on 'museum mile' where I wandered around in the cool of the:

American Museum of Natural History

It claims to be the largest museum of any kind in the world - there is certainly a lot of it, from the dinosaurs in the foyer to the whales in the back galleries.