Play it again …

This has been a crazy two weeks. So crazy I haven’t been at my computer the last five days. So, I’m cheating … I’m reposting something from February of 2011.

Thinking of all of you. Please excuse me for not commenting on your blogs lately. Hopefully, I’ll be back to my stride by next week. In the meantime … enjoy the replay !!

It is always at the change of the seasons I become melancholy and miss the shifting moods of the city, the amazing transformations of the parks and the magical blend of concrete, asphalt and nature, conspiring to create a magnificent mosaic of colors.

I went looking for pictures of my old haunts, the touchstones of my past, and the mile markers of my sojourn here on planet earth.

At a high point in Manhattan, sit the hills of Inwood Park, winding their way down to the channel that separates the Harlem River from the Hudson River. The base of the hills are banked by the small, quaint neighborhoods of Spytan Dyvil, Marble Hill and the serpentine roads of Riverdale on one side and Inwood, the Baker’s Field of Columbia’s football team and the parks on the other.

At the base of the hills, on the northern most point of the city, snuggled tightly inside the open fields of the park, is a pond. At a small opening on the western corner, the waters spill into the Hudson River and under the Washington Bridge, connected to the Henry Hudson Parkway.

The hills, the pond, and the lush grass of the fields, take up almost two-hundred acres of untouched land. Everywhere giant red oak, beech, ancient tulip and evergreen trees tower over the landscape and climb the hills, providing shade for family picnics, children playing, lovers hiding and small animals nesting. These woods are the only ancient forest remaining on the island of Manhattan.

In the spring, you can walk to the opening of the park and continue until you are at the top of the tallest hill. Sit on a fallen tree stump and watch the boats coming up the Hudson River: the Hudson River Day Line, the Circle Line, dinner boats, sailboats, small outboards and occasionally a pair of adventurous boys in a rowboat. It is where the Columbia University rowing team practices. In frigid temperatures or in the sweltering heat they row with fine precision, spurred on by a man with a bullhorn, shouting a cadence.

Up the narrow trails of the hills, the lush springtime flora surrounds you in color and scents. Sit on a soft bed of fallen leaves or pine needles and enjoy the wild flowers, the herbs and dozens of mushrooms that sprout everywhere.

What is in this mystical place? This place that hides secrets from past civilizations in its Indian Caves, this place that has not changed for centuries. There are stories of the spirits of the Indian tribes that once inhabited the hills, haunting the land, fiercely guarding its secrets.

But one does not need to worry or fear the spirits roaming this ancient land. The spirits here are of another time, before we settled the land, before we brought modern medicine and progress to our Indian brothers and sister. This holy place coexists in a city that consumes concrete and steel. A demanding mistress, this city, that boasts of some of the world’s tallest buildings, where progress eats up the landscape in a fraction of the time nature has taken to endow it, a city that removed, altered and improved beyond recognition the ancient lands of the Indian. In the very same place where modernization is at its highest zenith, nature too is at her height of beauty, its pride of majesty.

How long have the rivers rushed by this place on their way to the open sea? How long have the falcons soared over this land? The same falcons that nest in the hearth of civilization and build their home in the steeple of Riverside Church. These ancient lands are still the home of the bald eagle, the gray owl, and dozens of birds of prey hunting along the rivers and in the hills.

Migrant geese and ducks visit and move on, possums and raccoons and other small animals make the hills their home. It is a small wonder to know all of this coexists with thousands of Upper Westside co-ops sandwiched inside rows and rows of tall buildings, clogging the air, polluting the rivers and suffocating wild life in automobile and truck fumes.

In the lilting autumn breezes, this place far from the demands of consumption remains a refuge for man and beast, for creatures large and small, as the seasons turn once again.


Do you have a special place near you?

A place that speaks of the wonders of nature

and man as they coexist?

Do you ever get stuck and need to replay an old post?

fOIS In The City

Note:  Photographs from my daughter and wikipedia articles on Northern Manhattan.



Filed under City Scapes

29 responses to “Play it again …

  1. christicorbett


    I’m imagining you in a sea of unopened boxes, looking for the one box you put the tv controllers and silverware 🙂

    Moving is stressful, and it takes time to get back into the swing of things. Take your time, we’ll all be here waiting for you when you do.

    Christi Corbett


    • Christi, I am so worn down, I don’t know if it’s day or night. They start the construction of the patio and whatever next week and I’m still up to my arm pits in “stuff.” Thanks so much for your kind thoughts … I’ll hang in there 🙂


  2. What a beautiful journey through a place I would never know exists. Like many people I don’t think of the New York area as having any nature whatsoever so this is a real eye-opener for me. Thank you for that. I love my little (80,000) city of Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco. It’s a man-made island and I am thankful every day to be able to ride my beach cruiser around on the flat sidewalks and streets and see the marinas, the geese and ducks swimming in the lagoons, and dogs strolling with their owners. It’s a lovely enclave near the hubbub of San Francisco and Oakland with Victorian and Craftsman homes. I can tell you feel the same way about your city.


    • Patti, I love so much when you talk about Alameda. It sounds so enchanting and how marvelous that you can ride past marinas and enjoy the wild life. I can see how a place like that is perfect for a nature/animal lover like yourself 🙂


  3. annerallen

    What a gorgeous love-letter to New York–an aspect most people don’t even imagine exists. All we see is the skyscrapers and concrete. A heartwarming piece. And how amazing you managed to post something in the midst of a life-changing move. I hope you’re settling in.


    • Thanks, Anne … yes there are so many places and sights in NYC that no one would imagine exist in a “city,” and I love highlighting them for my readers. This life-changing move is about to wear me out … but I settle a bit more each day 🙂


  4. This is such a refreshing post. I always love your descriptions and photos. BTW, can I name a novel “Touchstone”? I rather like the sound of that.


  5. A “rails to trails” trail is nearby. Nothing but a narrow paved trail going in and out of woods — and on a nice day, it is crowded with walkers and bikers. I have walked it hundreds of times and am never bored.


  6. vicki batman

    Hi, Florence, I’d love to see your special places in New York. You make them sound magical. There’s a spot I always go to in Colorado and take in the majesty there. And probably, my fav is on the step with my kitty, just soaking and watching what goes by.


    • Ah Vicki, the magesty of Colorado. How splendid !! I love to share parts of the city that people would never know about, like a secret New Yorkers keep 🙂 BTW … I’ve been blocked by WP from commenting on your blog for over a week now. I’ll try to reach them and get it straight.


  7. Florence, you should crash and sleep for a week. Those boxes will be there when you wake up, I promise. 🙂

    I have two favorite places in the world. Anywhere in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Just put me on a mountain and I will be forever happy gazing at the view. My second spot is on Vancouver Island, a little spot called Brentwood Bay. The small hotel overlooks the dock where there are always boats and yachts parked. It’s quiet, out of the city, and is as peaceful and beautiful as my mountains. 🙂


    • Sheila, I have a secret dream to take the rails across Canada to Banf and then to the high country of the Rockies, take the ferry to Vancouver Island and be in heaven. How amazing that one of my “dream” trips is your home 🙂

      Yes, I am about to crash for a while and let the rest of the unpacking go in its own time! Thanks for the view of your world !


  8. Florence,

    Sometimes repeat performances are delightful. This was one of those. And never apologize for reposting such a post. You need to rest, really. We understand.


    • Thanks, Casey. Sorry I’ve been missing all of your great posts, replete with wonderful photography. I’m glad you enjoyed that small corner of my city. I think I might repost once more to give myself time to “regroup.” Hope to see you this Sunday 🙂


      • Florence,

        As long as you are well, missing posts won’t worry me. And if you miss a week? Well, that’s what archives are for. 🙂 Besides I usually don’t get to yours as soon as you post. We’re even.


  9. I’ve never replayed an oldie, but my hubby has suggested it when I don’t have time to blog. I just might soon;-) As for nature inspy near me, it’s Captiva and Pine Island for sure!


  10. Florence – Please join me in a caffeine-free day. That merely translates to slow down, open your arms wide and let the good energy in. If we don’t — we won’t be around to enjoy tomorrow. For me, I feel a nap coming on and for one of the few times in my life – I’m listening to my body.


  11. As one of your newer readers, I appreciate reposts since I missed them the first time around. Thank you for this look at Manhattan’s northern tip. I’ve seen it from the deck of a Circle Line boat and now long to walk the forest and the neighborhoods.

    Like the animals you mentioned in this post, you’re nesting, Florence. Unpack, settle, fluff pillows.


    • Thanks for the lovely thoughts, Pat. Welcome to my world. I’ll take you a guided tour of our beaches, or the parks, the riverwalks … it’s a grand place with many hidden secrets 🙂

      Now, I think I’ll fluff those pillows and take the nap Sheri mentioned.


  12. It all sounds so lovely. You have some wonderful memories.


  13. Totally legit to cheat, my friend. And I might steal that idea sometime. Like you, at this point I’ve been blogging for long enough to repost myself!


  14. Hi Florence: We are new to your blog, compliments of the rec. from Casey Comments. Because we are new, we are most happy to read an older post. Especially one this beautiful. It was a perfect look into your home. For me, I love the difference in Main Street of our town, normally, to the first week in December when our little town, dresses her up for Christmas. “Window Wonderland” a celebration every year in Franklin, North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains, when all the shop owners dress up Norman Rockwell style. Then, they display an ole Christmas scene in the windows of their shops. There is also, horse & buggy rides, warm chestnuts being sold, along with hot apple cider and eggnog. If but for a brief second, it’s like being transported back in time, and is completely magical. And all right there, in the bus/district of our town. Glorious!


    • Hi Inion … glad to meet you. Casey is a good friend. Your description sounds delightful … a look into the past and a hint of things to come at the same time. Thanks so much for the visit 🙂


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