Mar

1

 I got off the bus and walked through the Central Park snowscape at 57th and 6th. Fairy time.

Little kids with their brilliantly colored toboggans or inverted large plastic frisbees in cherry, lime green, turquoise and violet flopped down the tiniest slopes, shrilly screaming with delight. People were running the track, as per usual, enclosed in their huffing and timing. Many teams of families and friends were building snowmen, and I saw at least three snow caves, which we always advise people to build in the chilly North, if they are caught in a snowstorm or are lost in the woods and there is available snow.

I watched four energetic bunches of people on tamped-down 'slopes,' some of the adults sitting on the plastic garbage-can covers (so they looked) behind their tots.

Against the stark, clean white of the snow, the strong verticals of brown-etched black tree trunks heavy with the best snowball-making snow (but also the most perilous, as the death of a man from a falling overburdened branch demonstrated to us all if we heard the news), the colorful gear and costumes of the skaters, it was a wonder place.

The children far off made the scene evocative of those daguerreotype postcards of the first decade of the 20th century–rich and wonderful, especially with the high-prancing horse-drawn hansoms every few minutes. Two offered a free fa-la-la through the park, but I declined, entranced with everything around, far more scenic than anything in the summer months.

Stopped to talk with a chilled but friendly NBC cameraman next to his sound and light transmission truck right opposite the old–now closed, preparatory to a March reopen under new and hopefully solvent management–Tavern on the Green, shorn of its usual razzle-dazzle lights, but now looking cozier for the absence of limousines and cabs and liveried doormen. Now it is just a cozy restaurant nestled in the snow banks of the park. The TV guys, they told me, were forbidden to take shots of anything untoward: Only reportage on weather and snow conditions. No reports on branches falling and ending someone's breathing in an eye-blink.

Dogs on leashes stood on their hind legs like African prairie dogs to salute the large igloo being built opposite the Tavern. The cave/igloo was now the height of a medium daddy, and his son was inside the stuccoed white igloo, the top of his head just-just visible in the 'atrium' open-air unfinished dome, adding incrementally to the enclosure.

A family of 4 kids and tony UWS parents stopped to discuss the activities in the park, and one noticed the kids wore sleek, aerated bike helmets to prevent damage to their noggins should the boys decide to go tobogganing.

Everywhere, people smiled and spoke with one another, accessible as ever in extremis of weather or misadventure. Everywhere, the overhead shiny crisp sun found its echo in the sunny dispositions of the tots and parents, walkers, runners and horse-drawn, rug-covered buggies.

Who said childhood is finished?

Chris Tucker adds:

Spent the better part of this weekend at the local high school which features a large bowl around the baseball field. This provides natural stadium seating in the warmer months, and a wonderful, wide slope for sledding, boarding and tubing when the snow permits. Yesterday a large group of us got together for the fun, some brought beer, juice boxes and a hibachi and cooked up dogs for anyone that became peckish. Today we went out early as it was getting warm and we didn't want to ride slush and mud. But the hill was in good shape on the big side and a kid sized shovel that I keep in the truck kept the tracks in prime condition. The kids love going over jumps, as I did too at that age, but after my first try earlier in the season I decided my jump days were over. The neck and back just don't seem to appreciate the impact like they used to. There is a huge variety of toys available for this. We have seen traditional tobogans (though not this weekend), flat boogie type boards, true surf boogie boards which work just as well, saucers, boats, sleds with plastic runners, traditional Flexible Flyers, sheets of hard plastic, snow boards, tubes of all shapes and sizes (best for adults as they absorb a lot of the shock) and cardboard boxes, which work but have a short half life. The most squealing occurs either when there is a race, moms or dads go down on tummies with kids piled on their backs, or we make a chain with several vehicles and riders. The grown ups tend to make more noises of delight then the kids when we do this last bit. Tons of fun and no TV or video games in sight.


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