Monday, July 11, 2005

Fort Tryon Park in the warm evening

This summer, I've taken to walking some clear nights, after dinner and before sunset, in a lazy loop of Fort Tryon Park. In nice weather, there is almost always an ice cream vendor by the entrance to the park, near the playground and the basketball courts. I buy an ice cream, eat it on my way through the Heather Garden, and then attempt to walk some of it off the rest of my way around. The mix of sights and people in the park is usually something -- the wholesome and illicit, the new and the old-fashioned.

Tonight, a few dozen people were sitting, stretching, bending, and twisting their way through a free sunset yoga class on the first slope overlooking the Hudson. Within sight of them, some guys of indeterminate age were sipping from open 40s by the overlook wall. Women by themselves and a few older couples paced and jogged along the paths, some huffing and puffing more than others, while one man paused to pull out a pack of cigarettes. There were young couples with their toddlers and newborns or otherwise their pint-sized dogs. A young man in black pants and a white shirt sat on a bench in the shade and talked with a young woman in a dress; later, I saw them strolling, a few feet apart. Another man -- tanned, shirtless and slightly disheveled -- draped his arms across the top of a bench and took in the sun. Some people were playing soccer, and others badminton.

The way the park is raised above the rest of the island, it seems the sun setting over the Palisades is more of a presence, as it drifts down from being an invisible but everywhere light source to become a feature of the landscape. So many of us are more aware of the sun and its getting ready to leave for the day, or at least it feels that way. Down on the water, people in boats have piloted their craft to a spot on the river where the last sunlight was falling. It was warm, and I was breaking in a new pair of flip-flops -- more them breaking in me than vice versa. Occasionally, a car filled with people zoomed around the loop drive in the park, past the ancient-looking Cloisters, but mostly it was quiet and people were on foot or stroller or bike or skates. Soon, it was time to come home and get my laundry.

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