Monday, 21 March 2011

Happy Equinox!

Yesterday was the Vernal Equinox- the real deal telltale that Spring is finally here. As I write this, the snow is falling outside my window. Rude! Ah, well. It felt like spring yesterday.

What a better way to spend a lazy early-spring Sunday than to go for one of our epic walks. Generally when the weather is nice (but before it gets too hot and the motorcycle starts begging us to get out of town) we go on a lot of these epic walks on the weekend. It involves picking a neighborhood we haven't been to all winter and walking around all day long, finding good places to eat and drink. It's all about being a little lazy about getting nowhere in a hurry. I'm especially happy if these epic walks involve a little bit of nature along with food and culture. I find odd places to get my nature on in the city. While the parks can be more of a human zoo on the weekends, I find that Green-wood Cemetery fits the bill nicely.

It's an enormous place, and perhaps the most isolated you could feel in New York. You get rare silences and so much open space- you can actually see the sky! We walked around for two hours and bumped into just 3 other people the entire time. Usually that's a recipe for a mugging, but I've never felt anything but perfectly safe there. Even with the threat of it being ground zero for a Zombie Apocalypse, I love to meander around the various tombs and check out the notables who rest there. Boss Tweed, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Leonard Bernstein are all buried there.

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It's got a lot of huge old trees and overgrown shrubs, making it a great place to see a few birds that aren't pigeons or house sparrows.

The magnolia trees looked like they had another week to go before they explode in bloom. It's good to get out before foliage obscures the residence of the trees.

There were Robins everywhere. Dozens of them.

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I've always seen lots of red tail hawks in Greenwood, but this time we only spotted one. Most of them migrate south for winter, so it might be a little early for them yet. I know they've recently released a red-tail that was rehabbed from an injury into Green-wood, so this might just be him.

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I have a love/hate thing going on with the Mockingbird. The urban variety tends to mimic all sorts of car alarms, sirens and cell phone ring tones. Also, the males will sing all night long in the springtime until they find a mate. Annoying! Maybe you should try a more subtle, croonerly approach to woo the ladies.

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We also saw a couple of woodpeckers.

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I love to watch them propel themselves up the tree using their tail and their sharp claws.

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There were also a lot of tiny nuthatches, which usually let gravity do the work and propel themselves down the tree upside down, combing the bark for bugs and grubs with their needle-like beak.

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I loved the way this tree had roots stretching down a steep hill. It looked so regal and stately.

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Well, that was exhausting.

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When the shadows got long and a chill settled in, we headed back home through Sunset Park, where the balloons are especially elegant.

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Also, I spied this interesting diorama in a front yard:

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The Paul Revere statues add a somewhat modernist touch.

The street vendors are starting to take up their corners again. This woman was frying up plantains, which smelled heavenly and sweet.

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There are lots of great places to eat in the neighborhood- we ended up getting tamales and tacos at our favorite standby. They were a perfect way to fuel the last mile of our walk home. The margarita didn't hurt, either.

It's been such a harsh winter, which makes it especially gratifying to get some sunshine time.

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