Sunday, June 21, 2015

A first reflection on New York.

If you can make it there
You'll make it anywhere
It's up to you
New York, New York.

Whilst I'd been through New York on several occasions, I'd never stayed there. In May that chance occurred with the wedding of my son, Matthew, being held in Central Park on the 15th . I'm no longer a city person and confess to being  both excited and apprehensive at what might be in store. Matthew and I actually managed a couple of birding sessions in Central Park, met a few American birders and, I have to confess, I thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the things I wanted to see in Central Park was John Lennon's memorial, so here we were at "the famed spot" at 0600 hours one morning, only just previous to some of the wannabes who provide a continuous flow of Beatle songs later.

Whilst I was brought up in the "Beatle era" this visit carried a far greater significance than I've ever really revealed previously. I actually judge the lyrics of the song " Imagine" to be the closest thing to a religious creed that I could embrace and hope that, one day, we can all achieve the heartfelt hopes it contains. .  For me a very memorable experience accompanied, a little later , with some good birds , including Scarlet Tanager.    Running close seconds were a couple of Bay-breasted Warblers, Chestnut and Canada Warbler and Magnolia Warblers.  Later we managed to locate high on the roof of a building on the Park's perimeter the famed pale male Red-tailed Hawk. Oh yes, excuse the holiday birding gear!!

If you're travelling through NYC at a suitable time of year Central Park is certainly a fascinating place to visit with some really good birding habitat  ( the Rambles for example.). I suspect you need to research things well though as, perhaps surprisingly, it doesn't carry an extensive list of breeding birds.

The second place I'd have like to have seen, but didn't manage it, was the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village, haunt of Dylan Thomas.  Thomas appears to be far more popular in the USA than in Britain and has featured extensively in school syllabuses there. Now far from you running away with the idea that I'm a big fan of poetry, or of Thomas for that matter, perhaps I should explain the situation. Not all that long ago I came across for the first time that epic poem by Thomas, perhaps even his greatest,

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I then came across a reading of the full poem by Thomas himself and was bowled over by the power and meaning of those few verses.  Whilst Thomas was no Saint he was certainly a very gifted man of words ( and sounds ) and I suppose I simply wanted to pick up on some of the atmosphere associated with a fascinating man. A heavy drinker, a volatile temperament, but bedevilled by ill health , he died at the early age of 39 years whilst in New York. It would have been good to raise a glass to a very remarkable talent!!

I suppose the above poem can also carry with it a motivating aspect that urges, you in later life, not to squander any of the precious time bestowed on us, besides the other more complex elements of its content. On each reading I, for one, am encouraged to be "raging" anew. 

Now you'll have to bear with me as these Blog entries are no longer synchronized to date. I've either to work through a backlog or to insert some entries in amongst current ones. I've chosen the latter. When I returned from America I spent some time down in Norfolk but have chosen to leave out completely the now rather dated entries that would refer to that time. The odd extra American entry I guess can "survive" on a stand alone basis.

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