An early spring weekend of riding turned out to be a slalom: I wove my way between bouts of rain and threats of rain, and among momentoes to death and loss and life's renewal.
First, to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the home of the Unisphere. If you haven't been there, you saw it in "Men In Black." I rode a route that took me through the park because I wanted to see the cherry blossoms. The ceremony the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens holds was canceled this year, as it was last year. It's still a great place to see the blooms because of the walks and paths lined with the trees, and the variety of cherry blossoms grown at the Gardens. But those of us in the know will tell you that if you want to walk through a pink canopy without the throngs of selfie-takers, there's no better place in this city than FM-CP.
I think I might've been a bit early--or the trees might be blooming a bit later than they did last year: The buds, lovely as they are, do not burst with color in the same way. Like all buds, however, they are a visual reminder of hope and the future. So, I can look forward to going back in a few days--I hope.
I did, however, see "Leo."
During the past few years, an inordinately high number of trees have toppled in this city's parks and on its streets. Part of the reason is that once-in-a-century storms are striking every ten, five or even fewer years. Another, as a park ranger told me, is that many trees are old and have been decaying from within for years.
So, contrary to a rumor I may have just started, there isn't a dragon named Leo who knocks the trees down. Maybe he's kept at bay by coolers of--Gatorade? beer?--left for him!
My riding took me into Manhattan, the whole length of the island and beyond. At its base, Battery Park--where you get the ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island--there's a memorial to members of the Merchant Marine who were wounded or killed in World War II.
According to the inscription, the sculptor was inspired by a photo. I don't doubt it, but if said sculptor could also have claimed inspiration from something else:
I mean, can you imagine what the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel would look like had someone besides Pope Julius commissioned--or Michelangelo (one of my artistic heroes) painted it.
(Fun fact: Michelangelo didn't want to do the ceiling. He was at work on other projects and insisted he was primarily a sculptor rather than a painter. During the course of working on it, he wrote poems, tinged with sarcasm, about his displeasure at working on the fresco.)
Another irreverent thought occurs to me: Both Michelangelo's fresco and the sea sculpture can be seen as Rorsach tests of a sort: When you see one hand reaching out to another, do you think the stronger one should grasp the other and pull the other up? Or do you think the person being to whom the hand is being extended should learn to fend for himself? Will the guy in the water start to swim and, if he doesn't, does he deserve help?
At one time such a test would have classified me one way, and now it would reveal me in a different way. All I'll say is that my days of writing editorials for libertarian publications are long past!
Anyway, near the monument is a cafe for tourists. I must say that I was impressed with the garden around it:
With a setting like that, the cafe could serve sludge from the water and people would enjoy it! Me, I enjoyed my weekend of riding, even if it wasn't high-mileage.