Sunday, January 30, 2011

Of Bird Seed and Free Rap Concerts

As night is different from day, the scene is never the same when walking through Central Park and up towards Harlem Meer to see the birds.
Yesterday, it was striking how much snow is actually still around. Because the temperatures over the past month have remained below freezing most of the time, we still have snow left over from Christmas.  I took a photo yesterday of snow almost obliterating park benches at the North Meadow.  Only the very top of the benches are visible peeking out from beneath snow that has now piled up over 7 snowfalls.
The Central Park Reservoir is also completely frozen over now -- something I personally have never seen before.  It is completely devoid of all birds -- something too, not seen in recent winters in New York.
In fact, I did not see even one bird from 90th street to the area just short of 110th Street (The North side of Central Park.).  Just snow, snow and more snow.  Trees seemingly barren, bare and white, twisted in bewildering shapes as if wondering where all the birdies went? 
But, once reaching Harlem Meer, the scene suddenly changes.
There is a rich abundance of all kinds of birds at Harlem Meer, from sparrows to pigeons to starlings to mallards to Canada geese (at least for the moment) to even a couple of beautiful cardinals.
Indeed, it seems virtually all the birds have congregated to this one small area of the park -- perhaps because many of the people of Harlem Meer take time to watch out for the birds and actually feed them.
That was the case yesterday when noting a Mom and her son feeding treats to the geese, as well as another woman who told me she worries for all the birds in the park during the winter and leaves bird seed out for the smaller birds everyday.
It was truly nice to see that so many people care.
But, not everyone who seems to enjoy the geese and ducks at the park are the typical "mature women" or moms with their kids.  
One young man with an Ipod stood and bounced around on the embankment some feet from the geese and ducks and sang rap songs for more than an hour!
The scene was almost comical considering the saucy and combative lyrics of rap songs and the laid back, peaceful posture of the geese and ducks on the frozen lake.  I made a video of the scene and posted it to YouTube with the title, "EnRAPtured."   Who, after all needs American Idol when one can have an enraptured audience of geese and ducks to admire and listen intently to one's tunes?
What was so immensely pleasing about yesterday however, was that the people feeding the geese and ducks did so freely under the light of day and under the full visibility of park officials without being harassed about it.
That is a full 360 about-face from what was the situation just a couple of weeks ago.
As result of this, the geese who had arrived just the day before and seemed so desperately famished were satiated, relaxed and in good spirits yesterday.   The desperation was gone.  It almost appeared as though they sat back on the ice and actually enjoyed the free "rap concert!"  Even Brad and Angelina seemed relaxed and happy, swimming lazily around on the small pool of water that is now triple in size since the geese arrived.
I realize that this laissez-faire, relaxed policy on feeding the birds will not last at the Meer.  
But, for the moment, it is really, really nice and represents great support for the birds of our park, almost all of whom have seemingly ventured to Harlem Meer for the generosity of its community members.
But, I don't know and cannot say for sure, that they are particularly flocking to Harlem Meer for the free rap concerts.  -- PCA

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