Looking to Mother Nature

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Swinging in Central Park. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020. The weather, from inside looking out (mainly). Monday night in New York it rained and rained and was cold, almost like winter. Even the dogs didn’t want to go out. Then by yesterday morning, the Sun came out and the temps began rising — to the low 50s by the hour of this writing (7 p.m.). The weatherman forecast has us going back to the mid-40s today, but then to the mid-to-high 50s for the rest of the week. Well, it is Spring. So that’s the good news. If you have to go out.

Yesterday afternoon when I took the dogs out, there were more people out walking, walking their dogs, taking their small children out for some fresh air. There were also many — although not everyone — wearing surgical masks. Many of those I’m seeing out now are people whose offices and work places are closed. 

Ordinarily at this time of the week, there are fewer people out exercising, or with their little ones in strollers or carriages. The masses of pedestrian traffic are usually from the two girls’ schools (Brearley and Chapin) but they have both been closed for Spring vacation. The situation being what it is, it is highly unlikely that the schools will re-open next week.

Later in the afternoon I drove over to 75th and Third Avenue to the Citarella to buy some grub. Parking across from the store, there was a young man sitting on a blanket on the sidewalk leaning against the boarded up entrance to a store that had closed for the duration. He had placed a cardboard sign prominently in front of him with a handwritten message: “Wife Pregnant, Will Re-cycle anything you don’t want.” 

I’d guess he was in his late 20s, early 30s; clean-shaven, neatly dressed in jeans and jacket. He looked at me as if to ask. I told him I’d be back after I went to the store. But what troubled me most was the matter of the “pregnant wife.” In the market picking up what I needed, I also bought a large sandwich (round-wrapped) of chicken salad of some kind as well as a package of chicken breasts — thinking of her. Returning to my car, I asked him if he had an oven at home. No. 

So I took the packaged chicken home and gave him the sandwich and a twenty. He thanked me profusely, but I was very troubled as well as saddened. The matter is magnified dramatically today by the current events. Of course here in the city we see a lot of people on the street asking for money. Most, but not all, look to be in their 20s, sometimes 30s or 40s, as well as mothers with very young children, even families. This has been a now common sight for the past few years. But now, with so many businesses and places of employment closed down because of the virus pandemic, there have to be thousands, maybe millions caught in its vise. 

Thanks to my own heritage, I know how deeply troublesome, even terrifying it can be, and how it affects any individual’s life, as well as children and pets. New York these days is very expensive and many live on the edge of poverty, even if not totally impoverished. I don’t have the solution, obviously, except to be as generous as possible, hoping that that brief moment of exchange will bring some relief — and that things will improve. This is crucially important to all of us living together. History forewarns us of its otherwise dire effects.

In the meantime all of these troubles cannot be solved so easily, but we can look to Mother Nature’s visual gifts to remind us of better possibilities ahead. JH with his intrinsic eye for beauty, and his natural dexterity with the camera (in this case, his iPhone), took in some of the splendor for our viewing pleasure.

And to close, my great friend Sassy Johnson sent me a short but stunning video of an “event” paying tribute to our brothers and sisters in Italy: L’amore vince sempre!

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