Nature- Heartfelt tales

Winter in NYC

Nature’s most exotic sight is not the soft falling snow but the vast frozen river. Though static on the surface it is constantly moving underneath. ~ Hints Of Life

Frozen Hudson River
The Mallard Ducks and Ring Billed Gulls surviving the arctic chill on the frozen Hudson River, New York

Growing up in India, I never experienced snow. The maximum low temperatures in my city never dropped below 40 degree Fahrenheit. Fascinating as it may sound, I grew up in a city situated at the foothills of the Shivalik (a mountain range of the outer Himalayas). So, to experience snowfall one had to make a trip to the mountains. That trip is still on the top of my bucket list.

But life moves on, and fate takes you places. Yes, it happened to me.  29 months ago I moved to New York City. Gosh, I was thrilled to live in world’s most exciting city – Big Apple or famously known as The City That Never Sleeps. Home to a huge majority of international expats I looked forward to meeting people from across the globe. My initial few months in the city were overwhelming. I dreaded the long, harsh North Eastern winter. First winter was tough. The daylight saving time was much harder than I expected. I spent most time indoors as it was too chilly for me to be outdoors. I was bored to death and missed home terribly.

Frozen Hudson River.1
The frozen Hudson River on January 7, 2018

But I’m a fighter. As the second winter arrived, I learnt the process of surviving the cold days. Blogging became my biggest passion and a way to share my thoughts and feeling with like-minded people. I took to running outdoors on sunny cold days and sometimes on usual gray days as well. Living close to Central Park and Riverside Park, I found myself almost everyday at the parks enjoying the beautiful, serene views. I discovered bird watching as my new hobby. Curious, I carried my camera where ever I went, capturing moments – sunset, sunrise, different New York seasons , colorful trees, migratory birds, through the lens. Photography gave me perspective. I started seeing space in new dimensions.

Snow covered Riverside Park
View of the frozen Hudson River and snow-covered Riverside Park

Adaptive and resilient, I fell in love with New York winter in the third year. It is simply beautiful. The gray days seem charming now. Gray is the real winter color even on the subway. I wait for snow like a child and there has been plenty this year. I have braved a couple of heavy snowfalls to work and it truly was fun. My wardrobe is decorated with colorful cashmere sweaters, and I own a beautiful J.Crew winter coat. At last, I have learnt to dress according to the weather outside that varies a lot.

The new year began with a record-breaking low of – 40 degree Fahrenheit (- 40 Celsius) freezing the Hudson River. After seeing the breathtaking pictures and videos on social media, I couldn’t resist myself from venturing out in the frigid conditions to see the frozen Hudson River for real, in person. As I stepped outside, my breathing became heavy, and feet started moving slowly into a jogging stride. It was cold beyond belief. Careful (a snow fall bump was certainly not my idea) I made my way to the snow-covered Riverside Park from West 71st street on the Upper West Side.

The view of the Riverside Park was divine. It looked white like an angel and felt peaceful like heaven (as you see in the picture above). As I got to the Hudson River bicycling track  the river was covered in large chunks of ice floes. At the boat basin marina, mallard ducks and ring billed gulls sat close to each other on the frozen river, surviving the arctic chill. That scene was my defining moment. The 45 minutes spent in the unbearable cold were worth every breath. My New Year started with a splendid naturalist experience. I learnt life’s most important lesson yet again – we must stick together through harsh and tough times and we will emerge as champions.

Do you have a story that is close to your heart? Do share in the comment below.

Signing off  with best wishes.

 

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Nature- Heartfelt tales

Snowing December

It’s snowing December in Central Park ~ Hints Of Life

Central Park_First Snow_Winter
Glimpse of the first snow at Bridge No. 24, Central Park

On this exciting Friday, I wish to relive the few snowfalls we already have had in December, especially the first snowfall of the season!

Yes, it is snowing December in New York City. And as we are only two days away from Christmas, if the heavens permit I am earnestly hoping for a white Christmas. Oh, that will be a dream come true, indeed!

Though the first dusting of snow has melted (and two or three snow showers have passed), its essence is still alive in my senses. The first fall of snow is not just an event but a magical event. You go to bed in one world and wake up in another and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? says J. B. Priestley, the British writer.

As the first snowfall blanketed the city, the streets, from Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue,  to Madison Avenue and the parks – especially Central Park – were an enchanting sight. Children, couples, and, of course, pets took to Central Park to enjoy the snowfall. The sight of the horse carriages adorned with couples and families (cozily sitting together) enjoying the ride in the snow was my favorite of all.

New Yorkers took to social media, sharing stunning snow pictures and videos. But I consciously chose to live in the moment, enjoying the snow day in the company of family and friends. It’s my third winter in New York, and I still get the same thrill glimpsing the whirling snowflakes, kissing the earth gently. The feeling so magical as if a fairy angel is sprinkling love on earth.

Central Park_First Snow_Winter..
As it lay in a blanket of snow, the Great Lawn

The Great Lawn
The lush oval lawn (Great Lawn) that opened in 1937, was Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s vision of a rural retreat in Central Park. This green 55-acre area is the geographical center of the Park, and one of the most famous lawns in the world. Located Mid-Park from 79th to 85th Street, the Great Lawn is popular among New Yorkers for a mid-afternoon picnic in Spring or for relaxing in the summer sun. It is open from mid-April until mid-November. When covered in snow the lawn looks like a winter wonderland, as you see in the picture above.

It is interesting to know, that the site of the present-day Great Lawn was not always the pastoral meadow we see today. The space was instead occupied by the rectangular Croton Reservoir, constructed in 1842.  However, in 1917, the reservoir was made obsolete when a new water tunnel was built and all of its water was drained in 1931.  During the Great Depression the area served as the home of displaced residents and surplus supplies and materials leftover from the construction of a subway line and Rockefeller Center.

Over the next few years there was much debate about what would be done with the space. Options on the table included everything from a WWI Memorial to an opera house to underground parking garages. Eventually the debate concluded in 1937 and grass was planted, creating the oval styled-field now known as the Great Lawn.  During the 1950s, eight baseball diamonds were installed along the outer rim of the lawn. (Centralpark.com)

Central Park_First Snow_Winter....
Kids playin’ in snow at Central Park

As I walked in Central Park after a 30 minute run in the winter wonderland, watching the kids play in snow got me thinking of the many wonderful moments we create in our life on a snow day. For instance, a snowball in the face is a perfect beginning to a lasting friendship. I am sure many of you cherish these incredible childhood friendships even today. As I passed Cherry hill, I saw a little boy making a snowman with his mother in the middle of the hill. Seeing the beautiful mother-son bond, I couldn’t resist playing with them for sometime.

As I said goodbye to them, I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? Covers them in a warm white blanket until summer comes. With this wonderful feeling and priceless experience I made my way out of the park. It was time for a delicious hot chocolate in the cozy corner of my house.

Signing off with warm holiday wishes.

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Nature- Heartfelt tales

Landscapes~ November crush

November, your last chance for fall walks in the park. ~ Hints Of Life

Central Park._Fall colors_landscape
Fall soaked brooks, oaks, elms, red maples in the North Woods, Central Park

November comes with a ‘crush’, a heart crush for Central Park as it enthralls you in its  fall spirit, and a dramatic weather crush as temperatures in New York City dipped below 20 degrees Fahrenheit on November 10, calling for a freeze weather alert. These conditions  killed all the crops and other sensitive vegetation, ending the growing season for 2017. Catastrophic!

As I welcome the change, I wish to let the days flow with grace. I want to surrender myself to the small cozy corner in my house more often. Where I wish to write loving and positive thoughts and think of ways to spread joy and goodness this holiday season. As these thoughts escape my conscious, I remember spending a perfect November afternoon in Central Park a week ago. Colored in the spirit of fall the Park dazzled in shades of purple, reds, orange and yellow hues.

American Elm_Central Park_Fall colors
American Elm (yellow) in North Woods, Central Park

American Elm
American elm a predominant specie in Central Park is found in the North woods; West Side to Mid-Park from 101st to 110th street and The mall; Mid-Park 66th to 72nd street. A high canopied, in shape either fountain or vase, the elm is by habit and nature conducive to a grandeur and elegance not lost on Frederick Law Olmsted, Central Park’s designer. Olmsted saw in the American elm, a favorite of his, a tree conducive to creating canopied spaces intended to evoke the tranquil intimacy of ecclesiastical chambers, writes;

By 1860 the first two elm saplings were already growing in Central Park’s turf. Ever since efforts have been made to  isolate the elms from contamination by the neighboring elms or becoming victims of the Dutch Elm disease. The difficult task is a result of the close watch by the gardeners of the Central Park Conservancy, now forming one of the largest remaining plantations of the trees. (Source: Em.wikipedia.org)

Central Park._Fall colors_landscape._
A moment with my three friends at Central Park

To me, Central Park in November is about taking the last fall walks. To be mesmerized by the beautiful landscapes (all around) before it vanishes away. I visited the park on a mid-week afternoon for two simple reasons, it is less crowded around the time and it gives me a chance to enjoy my own company. Other than me, it were the three dogs (in the picture above) running the length and breath of the North Woods and having a time of their life. I soon befriended them and even chased them with all my strength as they sprinted on the beautiful fall foliage. Stopping sometimes only to rub their face against the soft leaves and other times to stretch their limbs for a little while.

I entered the park from West 79th street, and walked towards the North Woods this time. The sight of the mighty American elm, pulled me to that part of the park. I must tell you,  elms are loved for their graceful, stately shape, with branches like spreading fountains, and their green leaves turning gold in fall. As you see in the pictures above it were these beautiful landscapes that captured my senses. Other than the elms, the North Woods is home to Black cheery trees that change their color to yellow, & red; Pin oak trees that turn russet, bronze, & red; Red oak tress that turn to yellow, brown, & red; Scarlet oaks turning scarlet and Red maple turning red.

So if you are planning to visit the New York City Parks anytime soon. I suggest, November (precisely now) as an excellent time to visit, as some of the most popular parks in New York afford glimpses of spectacular fall colors. And Central Park, home to about 20,000 species of trees with the changing colors is a breathtaking sight. So why wait friends! Don’t think, just make your way to Central Park soon.

Singing off with best wishes to all. 

Recommended articles:
https://www.nycgovparks.org/events/fall_foliage

https://wingsair.net/2016/11/23/fall-foliage-walk-new-york-city-streets/

 

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Nature- Heartfelt tales

Sugar maple: the fall darling

Create memories in fall and reminisce in its warmth all winter. ~Hints Of Life

Fall colors_sugarmaple tree
‘Larger than life’ sugar maple at Central Park

Often times a weekend trip to Catskills or/and Adirondacks (though there is nothing like  weekend getaways) to experience the stunning fall colors and foliage can get dismantled by the burden of city life. I currently belong in this category of all consumed New Yorker. But as someone famously said; with fall breeze and autumn leaves, fun begins. And there is a lot of fall fun in store right here in the Big Apple.

At the heart of the city, Central Park is experiencing some amazing fall colors, finally! I say finally because the temperatures in the city have mostly been ranging between 70-75 degree Fahrenheit till mid October (unusual this year). But the trees have started to change color now. The sugar maple tree (below) bursting in its last beauty is the sight of Central Park.

Fall colors_sugarmaple tree._._
Sugar maple as it bursts with its last beauty

Sugar Maple
Sugar Maple is a landscape standout tree and can be seen in the warmest places in the United States. The leaves of the sugar maple can form a complete color wheel throughout the year, turning several shades of green, then from yellow to orange, and finally to red in the fall. The diversity of this tree makes it impressive all year round but especially in the fall.

Sugar maple is popularly know as hard maple, or rock maple, a large tree in the soapberry family, native to eastern North America and widely grown as an ornamental and shade tree. It is a commercially important source of maple syrup, maple sugar, and hardwood lumber useful in furniture manufacture and flooring. Some trees develop special grain patterns such as bird’s-eye maple (with dots suggesting eyes of birds) and curly and fiddle back maple, with wavy and rippled grain, respectively. The sugar maple may grow to a height of 40 m (130 feet). It has a dense crown of leaves, which turn various shades of gold to scarlet in fall. Its three- to five-lobed leaves appear after the greenish yellow flowers of spring. The fruits are paired samaras, or keys. Smooth grayish bark on the trunk and branches gradually furrows with age. (Source: britannica.com)

Fall colors_sugarmaple tree._._.leaf
Sugar maple leaf exposed in the sunlight

In Central Park you will find a dense population of sugar maple trees in the North Meadow, mid park from 97 to 102 streets. I found this gorgeous tree during my Friday morning run through Central Park. Known for its ‘landscape standout’ characteristic, it captured my heart and soul at just a glance (as you see in the first picture). I stood in its shade and enjoyed the crisp fall morning breeze for sometime. Then, landing on my knees I began collecting a few of the fallen scarlet leaves 🍃 to add them to my fall memories #2017 box. Because come winter my only sight will be miles of bare, naked branches and fall will seem like a distant memory. Looking around I saw other fitness enthusiast and pass byers stealing a glance of the larger than life sugar maple tree. Of course, others were creating their own beautiful memories by taking pictures and selfies with the tree. I left my sweet spot with a promise to visit it again tomorrow at the same time.

Catch the ‘last hurrah’ of these gorgeous trees before they go dormant for the winter. If you plan to visit Central Park to enjoy the fall colors, this particular sugar maple tree is located near the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain with The Mall behind you.

Signing off with best wishes for fall!

Recommended article:
https://www.6sqft.com/map-find-the-colorful-fall-foliage-of-central-parks-20000-trees/

http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/blog/guide-to-fall-foliage.html?utm_campaign=201611_blog_foliage&utm_content=tw&utm_medium=social&utm_source=cpc-engagement

 

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Nature- Heartfelt tales

Fall sunset

Tangerine sky, robin chirping somewhere in the woods,
smell of ripe earth, color all around,
FALL arrives with a spectacle. 
~ Hints Of Life

Fall sunset @Hudsonriver
As the Sun melts behind the horizon Fall sunset

As her feet moved forward, her legs felt like lead weight and lungs endured a burning sensation. The crisp cold air whistled through her ears, making her soft curls sing to its rhythm. In the backdrop of the gorgeous fall sunset, she finished her 4 miles run at the edge of Boat Basin Café at River Side Park. Her favorite go to spot on weekday evenings, Boat Basin café is located on the scenic Hudson River with in the historic walls of the 79th street Boat Basin. In simple words, the café is a casual open air treasure overlooking the Hudson River and has some of the best sunset views in New York city.

Recuperating from her rigorous run, Meena was suddenly aware of her numb cheeks and, more so of her beautiful surroundings. Standing at the fifth step leading to the café she marveled at the beautiful red and orange colors of the sunset. The universe never failed to surprise her. And fall is its most treasured time.

To seize the moment, she squeezed her eyes close, as tight as she could (subconsciously), and thought of all her favorite fall memories. Heartwarming and soothing, they came dashing into her conscious like stories from her favorite books. The awful, wonderful brightness of sunrise and sunset colors. The light fog in the evenings and the morning dew on her bedroom glass window. The smell of the hard, pale wood sending up sharp, orange smoke into the night. The feel of the mellow, golden sun on her skin, sometimes more gentle and cozier and more golden than even the light of her favorite reading nook at the close of the day. (Source: Catherynne M. Valente)

Fall sunset @Hudsonriver_1
Close your eyes. Fall in love. Stay there. Rumi

Tangerine phenomenon
Not just the changing color of the trees but the tangerine, vivid sunsets makes fall a beautiful experience. But what is the science behind the phenomenon?

When it comes to getting great sunrise and sunset photos, late fall and winter are perhaps the best time of year to find success. There are two reasons why the winter months offer up the greatest opportunities. The first reason is that the sun rises later and sets earlier so you don’t have to get up at a frighteningly early hour or stay out past dinner time to capture the beauty. The second reason is a bit more scientific.

The colors of a sunrise or sunset are based on how light is entering and traveling through the atmosphere. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tells us that dust and pollution particles in the air scatter light and reduce how much makes it to the ground, and thus reduces the intensity of colors at sunrise and sunset. So, when it’s hazy out, the sunrise or sunset colors will be more muted. When the air is crisp and clear, these twilight hours will offer up more vibrant colors. NOAA states, “Because air circulation is more sluggish during the summer, and because the photochemical reactions which result in the formation of smog and haze proceed most rapidly at that time of the year, late fall and winter are the most favored times for sunrise and sunset viewing over most of the United States. (Source: Mother Nature Network)

Fall sunset @Hudsonriver_2
Goodbye Summer, coz Fall has arrived

Living in the moment is her life mantra. Seated at a table for two by a charming waiter, she inhaled the sweet; crisp breeze and, prepared herself  to embrace the colder and darker winter. The most beautiful time of the year, “Fall is the only season when the earth lets itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” Rainer Maria Rilke describes fall with such beauty and elegance.

Like Meena are you enjoying the joys of fall? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

Happy Fall! 🙂

Recommended article:
https://weather.com/news/news/autumn-sunsets-20121018_immersive

http://www.spc.noaa.gov/publications/corfidi/sunset/

Source: 
https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/why-sunrises-are-more-amazing-in-winter

 

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Nature- Heartfelt tales

Sunbathing turtles

A turtle is not just a fascinating species, but a silent teacher. ~ Hints Of Life

Red-eared turtle
A group of Red-eared slider turtles basking in the sun at Central Park

Try to be like a turtle- at ease in your own shell, Bill Copeland. The beautiful thought captured my conscience after my visit to Central Park on August, 13. Oftentimes, you want to enjoy the experience in solitude for a while before penning down your thoughts on paper or a blog. Such is the case with my new post ‘Sunbathing turtles’.

It was a surprise scene at the Lake in Central Park as I and many other park lovers witnessed a very pleasant sight- numerous, beautiful red-eared turtles sunbathing around the 18 acre lake. The turtles coexisting in the environment with you. Stretching their limbs right at your feet and even posing for the camera was quite an enthralling experience.

Red-eared turtle_1
A gorgeous red-eared slider turtle at the Lake, Central Park

Red-Eared slider
Red-eared sliders are a solitary species, but they do “socialize” during mating season. Most turtles do not venture too far from their established fresh water habitat unless searching for a mate or nest site.

Red-Eared slider sunbathing: Heat absorption is more effective when their limbs are stretched outwards. Red-eared sliders are almost entirely aquatic, but as they are cold-blooded, they leave the water to sunbathe to regulate their temperature.

These turtles are poikilotherms, meaning they are unable to regulate their body temperatures independently; they are completely dependent on the temperature of their environment. For this reason, they need to sunbathe frequently to warm themselves and maintain their body temperatures.

Red-eared turtle_2
A Yellow belly slider turtle drying itself on a rock near the Lake

Though most of the turtles were basking alone in the sun (as you see in the pictures), I spotted a group of turtles sunbathing together on a rock (in the first picture) and a baby turtle swimming near by. It was a beautiful sight which attracted a lot of kids and their parents. I was also able to spot a rare Yellow bellied slider turtle on the south-west side of the Lake, stretching its limbs, drying itself on a beautiful summer day.

Yellow bellied slider
Yellow bellied sliders are aquatic turtles. This means they spend most of their time in the water but unlike amphibians, they need to be able to get out of the water to dry off and breath. Yellow bellied sliders do not have gills. They grow to be almost a foot long, are excellent swimmers, and live well over 20 years. They are cousins to the red eared slider and have almost identical care requirements.

The Video

The first turtles that made Central Park their home were pet turtles released into the Park’s man-made fresh water ponds by their owners in 1980’s, since then their population has grown tremendously. The most common among them were the red-eared slider turtles. In addition, snapping turtles, painted turtles, musk turtles and some yellow-bellied sliders that hail from the Southeast make up the turtle family at Central Park.

As I walked through the Lake into the ramble at the Upper Westside, my day was filled with joy, a sense of fulfillment griped my mind, body and soul. It was a day well spent in the company of nature.

Recommended article:
http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/warm-weather-turtle-lovers-warning-reptiles-article-1.1036724

Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-eared_slider

https://www.thespruce.com/yellow-bellied-sliders-1238384?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons_nip

 

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Nature- Heartfelt tales

The Lake

Sometimes, a walk by the Lake is therapeutic. ~ Hints Of Life

The Lake
The view of The Lake at Central Park

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains- Diane Ackerman. Such our my feels except instead of the mountains it was a beautiful walk by the Lake at Central Park.

It was a perfect Sunday in New York city with abundant sunshine and an everlasting blue horizon. The one day in the week to laze and relax. After a late brunch with my husband at Vive La Crepe on Columbus Avenue between West 68th & 69th street, we decided to head to Central Park for a walk. Our walk started right from our brunch spot as Central Park was just a 10 minute walk from there.

Mallard Ducks
A school of Mallard Ducks attracted quite an audience

The Lake
The Lake that is spread over 20-acre is the largest of Central Park’s naturalistic water bodies. It is located Mid-Park from West 71st to West 78th Streets. Park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux created the Lake from a former swamp, for boating in the summer and ice-skating in the winter.

In 2012 the Central Park Conservancy completed the comprehensive restoration of the Lake and its surrounding landscapes. With the water’s edge having slowly crumbled and eroded through the years, the Conservancy set out in 2006 to stabilize its shoreline.

What the team did..?
The team excavated and removed excess sediments, then reconstructed the shoreline with rustic boulders on a stabilized gravel base. Using coir logs, created from the binding of coconut fibers with biodegradable netting, the Conservancy reconstructed the vast shoreline staked at the base of the slope where the normal water level meets the shoreline, the logs serve to protect the Lake’s edge from erosion until plants can become established. The coir logs are a sustainable solution to the Lake’s restoration, and one that’s helping preserve the beauty of its lush landscapes and the health of its wildlife habitat.

The Lake_Flowers
Black-eyed Susan blooming at the foot of The Lake

As we entered the park from West 71 street entrance, it took us to the Lake through the Strawberry Fields. A living memorial to the world-famous singer, songwriter and peace activist, John Lennon. It was serene and tranquil as we circled  the Lake at medium pace. At the North-West side of the Lake we were greeted by a school of handsome male Mallard ducks, who attracted quite an audience for themselves.  It was a sight to watch them swim in the water and listen to their quack.

Just ahead I spotted a beautiful bed of Black-eyed Susan flowers. The flower a deep yellow with a dominant black center is native to the United States. It is a very versatile plant and can grow in damp to dry and sunny to shady conditions. The Black-eyed Susan is the state flower of Maryland.

A World-Class Urban Park, Central Park is just the kind of escape one needs in the Big Apple, which records the highest population density of any major city in the United States, with over 27,000 people per square mile.

So fellas make your way to the park soon!

Source:
http://www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/attractions/lake.html
http://www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/bloom-guide/blooms/black-eyed-susan.html?season=
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/data-maps/nyc-population/population-facts.page

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