Dip into nature
This is my first soundwalk and my first time in Central Park. The first few minutes of the walk are confusing as I am listening to the narrator as well as adjusting my own senses to this magnificent park.
I don’t follow the sequence the first few minutes. Instead I pay attention to how Janet has presented this sound walk. Footsteps, instructions which tell me when to pause, where to look and what to feel. Mic movements tuning in and out which signify motion beautifully.
There’s a trumpet player infront of me at the footsteps of the “dip into nature”. I take his photograph, he poses. I hear the ducks, and I see them too when I hear - “we can’t look back, that’s one of the rules for today”. I don’t rewind.
“Ice in the lake, the barren trees” - the background noise in the audio stops. I can feel the emptiness in the photo. But right there infront is a beautiful lake full of ducks! I’m still adjusting. I press hard to listen.
I follow Janet into the tunnel and the zoo on the left right up to the clock tower. I stop to take pictures and capture the symmetry from the lampost at the end of the tunnel.
I snap into the soundwalk when I listen to a recaptured slaves story infront of the zoo.
The clock strikes 4 and the clock tower performs a little musical, I video it along with other tourists.
I follow the road into the next tunnel. It feels like I’ve walked through a brief period in American history. From the dip into nature from a cacophonic city (some time ago all of New York must’ve been this serene) and the walk up to the zoo juxtaposed with the struggles of freedom from slavery. The clock tower looks familiar even though it’s my first time infront of it. It’s from the movies.
Up ahead, Homesteads design based on a landscape painting is breath-taking, I would never have noticed the winding path disappearing behind the rocks, it is picture perfect. To know that they discovered a graveyard underneath when digging up the stream, was eye-opening.
I take a few pictures at the Dog statue. Paying homage to animals who were equal participants in building this country is gratifying. It shows genuineness and a measure of equality.
The tall American Elms do look enchanted! I can feel romance, tragedy and longing from the story. I take a few photos of the gnarled tree and take my place across it. And I listen. Janet’s monologue of her gazing at her husband while he sleeps. I understand that connection.
It’s a beautiful track, “last night my kisses were banged in black hair, and in my bed my lover, her hair was midnight black”.
The Mall and The Angel
I get up and walk past the memorial of fallen soldiers and up to the promenade. The Mall is a happening place, shared between African-American street performers and Asian artisans. I take a long view and the palatial design feels like I’m at the footsteps of a palace. I can see couples in photoshoots, I photograph them and make my way down. There’s an opera + violin performance going on. I don’t understand the story but it’s beautiful.
The unsmiling angel is crowded around by smiling tourists. Lots of selfies, I get requests to photo people. I oblige a few and then make my way down the path to Bow Bridge.
I loved the afternoon light and what this bridge represented. After walking through a brief history of time in the walk tour I was delighted that it concluded with love. The bow shaped bridge represented purity to me, and lent a purpose to the city. This is what it was all for.