Bridges intrigue me. They represent compromise, meeting in the middle, moving on beyond the dischord. Most people – including my family – don’t realize how enamored I am with fine masonry, stone work, fine woodworking, intricate wrought iron work, and perfect brickwork. And there’s no place better where these come together than in Central Park. For that reason I unabashedly claim it to be a Runners Paradise. At least it’s MY runners paradise. My favorite bridge is simply named: Bridge 28.
Yes, yes, I know: a winter photo of it isn’t nearly as appealing as Summer greens in the background, or Autumn orange and reds. But zoom in here. Look at that iron work. Holy cow! Right? This wrought iron bridge grabbed my heart long ago. Without fail, I always run to it, as I did this past week, when I’m in New York, – it’s on the far north end of the park, but so worth the effort and time to get there. To my dismay, rust could be seen this time. So I’ve written the Park Conservancy, volunteering my time to paint should they want it next spring. I can’t imagine losing this bridge to neglect. Next, ….. Bow Bridge:
Spectacular, am I right? Oh, yeah. Bow Bridge is by far better known: movies and t.v. shows often use it. It looks like a magnificent work of wrought iron. But in fact, it is concrete, – yup – painted beige. And it has an amazing running surface: perfectly hand cut wooden planks. In winter, the urns above show off Holiday ribbons – graceful enough, right? But in summer they cascade flowering petunias and geraniums and Ivy. I’ll post some summer photos in 6 months from now. You’ll understand why this, too, is a favorite bridge in my daily Central Park runs. And then there’s a whole series of wooden bridges…
Eastern hardwood bridges, carved and meticuously built. 5 days ago I stretched here, listening to and watching a fine musician play saxophone. Crowds gathered, small in number – which suits me fine, and together we basked in melodies as warm as this wood itself. No one – as in Not 1 Person – had ear buds in. He held us captive. “Killing me softly with his songs” 🎶 as Roberta Flack once sang.
Morning runs in fresh snow allow for a special kind of bridge experience. So many of these bridges, arches, and tunnels have intricate, beautiful work underneath them as well.
Gothic arches give runners a chance to pause, stretch, and feel the cool underbelly of smooth stone juxtaposed against exterior color and texture variations. The palm of my hand does not forget what these rocks feel like, regardless the time of year.
There’s several dirt paths that lead to isolated briar patches where a guy can take off his shoes and inspect a new blister forming. Here, birds chirp and commune, and while I still love those places, as I’m aging I now stay clear of them, opting instead to stay where I can be seen, where others can be seen. Fortunately, quiet single paths and arches like this still afford me this tranquil privacy but Within the bounds of safety.
There are scores of these bridges, arches, and tunnels. These are but a few of them, all ran on this week. I’ve gotten my Central Park fix. For those I care about I want to take them with me to experience a walk or run in Central Park. I then ask myself: “But would they get as much pleasure from this as I do? Would they find the same joy in resting or stretching against the cool stone? Would they marvel at the welders and blacksmiths that created the wrought iron work with such flair and beauty that it takes my breath away? Would they marvel at the sound of water sparkling in little, and big, brooklets below? Would they thrill to hear the clip-clop of horses drawing carriages above on wooden planks?” Sadly, I admit to myself, “Probably not.”
And so, I’m kind of glad I don’t fly with the rest of the flock. I can’t imagine missing out on those very experiences – every single time I run in New York City’s Central Park.
Be Well, Do Good.