New York City, May 21, 2017

★★★★★ The nearest and most forceful of the birds singing in the morning sounded one staccato note, with well spaced pauses between each one. The slightest parting of the blinds let the full light-flooded scene below come through. The sidewalks were active early. There was already a line outside the bakery, not a bad one by the bakery’s standards, but the day had gone past being nice enough to wait around in. It now demanded motion and activity. A glance over the shoulder to check the time found treetops blocking the clock atop the bank building. A passing neighbor’s face was unrecognizable till the last second in the deep shade of a wide-brimmed hat. A building worker chased pigeons out of the fountain with the spray of a hose. The five-year-0ld was surly about going outside again, after he’d been to the playground already, but once he was on the move he began happily barking orders into a toy flip phone. Petals blew through the trees onto the path into the northern end of the Park. Great Hill was strewn with blankets and people, and a kite was struggling to get aloft. Chipmunks scattered in the leaves and a catbird hopped by the path. The greenery was thick enough to briefly achieve seclusion. Mugwort was up amid the trees and in the open, in sun and shade, with the woodland animals and the old city birds around it. The walkways obeyed the terms of the flat geometric map on the phone while rising and falling in and out of view on the swells and troughs of rock and land. Matte ripples ran over the surface of the Harlem Meer. The northmost part of the Conservatory Garden was dense with withered standing tulips, crowded and still straight. A couple in immaculate white chased with gold posed by the Untermyer Fountain, crystals glittering in the woman’s hair clip and clutch purse. Another couple was posing on the lawn of the middle garden, their embracing coached and tracked by a photographer yards and yards away on the grass with a long lens. More dressed-up people attended by more photographers waited their turns. The breeze tossed the plume of the fountain there like a horse’s tail. Up on the overlook new wisteria vines thrust and coiled into space, feeling for something new to grasp. The couple from the lawn had made their way up to the shaded pergola. “Kiss!” the photographer called to them, from the far end of the row of benches. Two people with a pair of binoculars peered up into the dark of the ceiling of vines, making pishing sounds to rouse birds. Down in the final garden, the flowers were trembling bells or immense creamy clusters or purple metal geodesic domes. Sparrows flew down to join the bronze bird in the dish lifted by the statue in the Frances Hodgson Burnett fountain. The sun through the leaves of the Japanese crabapple made pennies at the bottom of the darkened pool shine. In among them was one dime. A pink colored pencil floated on the water with the leaves and petals.