Doing a Texas two-step along the Hudson River Park promenadewhile trying to keep the Erie Lackawanna tower centered on the fireball of the setting sunwith my camera – lungestep (to the left), together (with the right); step, together; step, together – it seems incredible that Helios’ chariot moves so fast. Of course, the sun gallops that quickly all through the day, but who’s paying attention? I’m imagining Millie doing a corgi-two-step in unison by my side like a dressage horse with her head held proud, knees lifting smartly, elegantly;nevertheless, when I look down,Millie’scrouching,poking her nose under the railing,snuffling the night air. I have to pull her (albeit gently) to get her to step sprightly. Finally, she balks, barking at me in consternation (either because I’m not stopping with her, or because she’d like meto sashay in her direction rather than dallying with this silly sunset-wrangling – ah, to read a corgi’s mind). I think I got some good shots though, so we’ll move along.
In April,mysunset dance previewsat West 11th Street whereas by mid-summer,the run-of-the-play contract takes meto the south end of Pier 40 to thread the sun through the tower’s needle. Whatever the choreography, tonightfeels more like the last days of fall slinking into winter. (I think that there’s been a traffic jam up north, and spring got caught behind the rubberneckers.)
High above,seemingly a hundred gulls are circling like in a snow globe. The Technicolorpanorama of the downtown skyline distracts me, and by the time I look up again, every single gull has disappeared.Where do they go so suddenly? Did they get a text about a free seafood buffet just opening in the harbor?A second snow-globe-full of gullsskirmishes over the Pier 46 pilings. This checkerboard hopscotch will continue into the evening as one and then another jumps, then “kings” another gull’s favorite roost – until the tide rises and they all have to clear the board – game over.
Flying north tonight is a prodigious quadruple-V of Canada Geese second-guessing the next freeze or Easter blizzard. Their rhythmical honking tumbles down among the sparrows’ and starlings’ goodnight peeps and clucks and chirps in the park trees. Flying down river is a long line of Brant Geese; they’re still haggling over the departure datefor their summer rendezvous up in Hudson Bay. Even in the failing light, a Mockingbird,self-appointed archivist for the neighborhood’savian patois, hasn’t relinquished his post on top of a lamp post. He’s really showing off.I’m impressed. Yet is his girl wooed? Are his competitors getting the message to “back off?”
Was that a single peent of a Woodcock?(Try to say peent as loud as you can while sneezing and it’s exactly the sound.) Everythingfeels right tonight that one of these needle-nosed compost-dappled dumplings could have dropped in for the evening for his timber-doodle mating flights – a buzzy emergency alarm revving up until he launches into the air like a rubber-band helicopter and then ripples back to the ground with his ethereal wingbeats. (What a West Village Bird #90 that would be for me!) However, there was only that one “I-thought-I-heard-it”peentcall, so it could have been the coincidental timbre of a truck slowing for the stop light on West Street, or someone’s ringtone wafting from the end of the pier, or that Mockingbird fellow, well, mocking me. Once, uptown,I saw a Woodcockdodging after-theater traffic at 45thStreet and 8th Avenue, so imagining one here is not only wishful thinking.
A wedding-cake-tiered tugboat churns in front of the Hoboken ferry portals – tonight only an “E” and an “N” brand the night.
“Millie, my faerie steed, let’s trundle home.”
For a schedule of monthly NYC Wild! nature walks visit www.keithmichaelnyc.com.