If my Hyde Park neighbours notice me at all, they must think I’m a very strange bird. This may not be saying much, as Hyde Park is habitat to an odd flock.
Saturday and Sunday, I’ve been walking around and sitting at Promontory Point while the weather is tolerably warm for winter. I’m wearing old, powder blue sweat pants stained with grey alley-steps paint, a 20-year-old sweater with obvious holes, and walking shoes with enough rips and scuffs to make a dumpster diver think twice. The ground is wet from the melting snow that came down a couple of weeks ago, and there’s no reason to get dressed up — neither a head of state nor a prospective love of my life is likely to appear around the next corner (both types have managed to avoid or elude me here since 1979, so I believe this is a safe assumption). Besides, the love of my life, whoever and wherever he may be, knows that my exterior is naturally rough.
My dress won’t get me into too many better restaurants, but I’m comfortable. If that weren’t enough, though, I’ve taken to looking down drains. So as the strollers stroll, the joggers jog, and the cyclists cycle, they are likely to come across a dotty middle-aged woman in shabby, worn clothes, staring down the drains in the ground.
I might stroll, jog, or cycle by quickly, too.
But I love water, and with this thaw water is tinkling rapidly down these drains as the melting snow from the mound of Promontory Point flows in a stream downhill. I may never again wade in the flow of 18-Mile Creek at Chestnut Ridge in Erie County, New York, or stand at the bottom of its tiny waterfalls, but I can feel the sun of perhaps 33 years ago on my back and the cool water gurgle-glistening over my feet. Saturday, there was still ice surrounding the drain by the 55th Street underpass, so I could watch the water’s movements as it flowed under the ice toward the drain. It’s like seeing and hearing a miniature world. By early Sunday, the ice was gone, and there was a simple stream; later, there was just a wet spot with no flow.
Nothing ever stays the same.
I’ve been trying to catch the lake at freezing and thawing but it seems to happen suddenly and always when I’m not looking. Once it seemed to happen within a few hours when it was not very cold.
Earlier this week, the inlets were covered with ice but beyond them was open water. I didn’t realise this, but the effect was odd in the early morning with the glare of the low and rising sun. The open part of the water was a flat mirror that merged the with the horizon and sky, while the inlet at 57th Street was covered with ice that seemed untouched by the sun’s rays. It looked like they were separate, disparate elements; the ice appeared real, while the water almost disappeared transparently.
By Sunday morning, most of the ice in the inlets had melted (virtually overnight), and only a few ice floes and chunks resembling boats remained on the water.
I wonder if there will be waves tomorrow.