Chasing Life

chasing pigeons1

Photo: Chagit Moriah-Gibor

 

For all the little ones in my life: Right here, nearby, quite far; right now or not but in my heart you always are … For all of you who chase life (and sometimes Central Park pigeons), and grab hold of every moment’s possibility with two tenacious hands:

You teach me lots more than I ever could teach you.

You are each life, exemplified.

 

For Tuesday Photo Challenge

Weathered Walls

smallpox hospital Roosevelt Island IngeVandormael

Photo: Inge Vandormael

 

The stories told

By weathered walls

Still standing tall

After the fall

So like the lives of residents

Of old

Untold

Still hold.

 

(In the photo: The ruins of the Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island, New York City)

 

For The Photo Challenge (2nd entry)

Transformed

transformation

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda, Central Park

 

The moment where the seasons

Shift.

The transmutation

Of the summer

Into fall

Already final

Even if not

Entirely

Complete.

 

 

For The Phoneography Challenge

A Tribute in Light

Tribute in Light DOD public domain

Tribute in Light — Photo: DOD

 

On the eve of 9/11

In this city that has been forever changed

As it had its core humanity

Revealed

In uncountable acts of kindness

Under devastation,

I revisit

The day

The sky grew dark

With smoke

And hearts broke open

With compassion.

 

 

For more information on tomorrow night’s Tribute in Light

For the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

City Blues

CentralPark Reservoir NaamaYehuda

Central Park reservoir; Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

People are often surprised that an expanse of blue water in the middle of Manhattan is iconic NYC, and yet … there it is, the Central Park reservoir, perched at the upper half of the massive park like the pit of an avocado. Built in 1860, the 40 feet deep reservoir holds a billion gallons of water. Locals use the 1.58 miles running/walking track around the reservoir for their daily exercise (and might frown at you if you disregard the signage to follow a counter-clockwise direction, or bring your bikes or pets or strollers onto the track – they are not allowed). In this photo, taken from the Upper East Side looking toward the Upper West Side, the blue of the water strives to tickle the blue sky and the clouds get comfy on and in between the towering apartment buildings.

 

For The Tuesday Photo Challenge

City Symphony

NYC IngeVandormael

The Other NYC” ; Photo credit: Inge Vandormael

 

There is the hum of traffic in soft undertone. The contralto of people punctuated by the crescendo of a child who was refused a treat or dropped his toy. The bark of dogs weaves in: one low and deep, another yipping in the determination of the pocket-small. A truck lumbers over a rut in the road, a phone rings, a door slams. A bus beeps as it kneels for passengers, again when it rises up. An ambulance wails, its falsetto undulating in inverse proportions to distance and urgency. A firetruck follows in a fortissimo of horns. In the relative silence that ensues, a bird chirps and a pigeon coos response. Pianissimo. The city breathes. Then a traffic light changes, a motor revs, and a few notes of rap beat an open-window-escape. Another bus rolls to a stop, beep-kneels, sighs-up. More people’s voices modulate the presto of a toddler’s laugh. The rumbling of a motorcycle answers the low groan of a heavy truck. More dogs yip and bark. Someone inexplicably whistles Brahms.

City Symphony. An orchestra of urban life in virtuoso intervals.

 

For The Daily Post

The Wilds of Manhattan

Life can be strange in the wilds of Manhattan.

More specifically, on the sidewalk of 87th Street off Broadway.

I found a wounded Cooper’s hawk on the curb this morning, breathing but motionless with right wing splayed and tail half spread.

Two men were already there, holding phones out and trying to figure out who to call. We tried to think which veterinary practice was the closest or whether to call the city hotline at 311.

Luck (or serendipity) has it that there is actually a Wild Bird Fund clinic just a few blocks away. One man tried calling them and got the voicemail, so I said I’d take the bird there myself immediately.

A passerby stripped his coat off to donate his sweater to cover the bird. Not only talons and beak to worry about, but birds of prey can die from stress–it can help keep them calm to have them covered. The good man then ran to the closest store to bring a box to put the bird in. The hawk rose in alarm when one of the other men leaned close to take a photo of it, but it was too wounded or too in shock to move away.

We shushed and covered the bird, then placed it in the box, and I left with it for the clinic. The hawk lay quietly in the empty Avocado carton, resigned or hopefully knowing someplace that I was doing for it. I sent calm thoughts of healing its way, just in case. Intention matters.

As soon as I walked into the Wild Bird Fund, I was greeted by clucky hens of various colors, outfits, and dispositions (one white hen donned blue Band-Aid socks), a couple of ducks, and a curious seagull, all promenading on the clinic’s floor, pecking happily from a shared bowl. I felt transported and a little giddy. I had hens and ducks growing up, and I have a special connection to seagulls, especially curious ones …

The amazing staff attended to the poor hawk immediately. The bird was conscious but not very responsive and too timid. They checked for bleeding, administered IV ‘bird-Gatorade,’ and put it in a quiet cage on a heating pad (“Where is a warming blanket?”, “They’re all over the place. I think the Kestrel had it…”, “Yep, just took it from the Kestrel … he doesn’t needs it anymore.”).

First order of the day is to let it regroup. De-stress. Hopefully it will recover some before the bird rehabilitator comes in the afternoon and can take a more thorough look at it.

I said goodbye to a little red hen (sans apron but just as officious) who wove between everyone’s legs the whole time, to the seagull and the ducks, to the robin Annie, who seemed mighty glad to be behind the bars of a cage with a hawk one foot away, took the sweater to return to the good Samaritan, and left an island of wilderness and barnyard, feeling a bit surreal.

This is New York.

You really do not ever know what you’ll run into, or see.

Get well fast, little Cooper’s hawk!

 

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Wounded Coopers’ Hawk, NYC Jan 16, 2017

 

What if bad people forgot how to be bad? (An irreverent fantasy)

broken-umbrella

I was walking home from a meeting the other day and ran into an elderly woman with a walker and a broken umbrella. She looked lost.

I asked her if she was okay, and she shook her head. She couldn’t remember where she was going, then brightened slightly: she had a card. She dug around in her purse, broken umbrella perched over one shoulder and rain drenching her head, keys and change spilling onto the wet pavement. I held my umbrella over her, picked up the fallen items and looked at the card she held out: A senior center. I knew which one–it was quite a ways away. How did she end up so far from it?

She’d been trying to get there and must’ve taken a wrong turn. Got lost. She was flustered–she’s lived in the area a long time but couldn’t get herself oriented to what avenue was where or in what order or how far. She kept repeating an attribute of her destination. A ramp. For wheelchairs and walkers. It had a ramp. She’d been walking and looking for ramps…

I told her not to worry. I knew where she had to go and would walk her there.

On the way and as she looked for ramps and we slowly navigated in the rain that dripped over the edge of her broken umbrella and as we dodged puddles and splashing cars and potholes that snagged the wheels of her walker, she told me (and repeated the same every minute or so) she has “some dementia.” She used to be very independent and “drive all over the place” but now keeps getting confused. She said she tries to leave the house to be with people because “it is important” and because otherwise she sits home alone “and cries like a baby all day.”

My heart ached for her.

Her broken umbrella mirrored her flickering brain–she held on though it barely did what it ought to.
It took us a while to inch our way to the senior center. I kept reassuring her we’ll find the center (with the ramp). She retold me of her dementia. How independent she used to be. Of her forgetting. Her wanting to be with people. Her “crying like a baby” at home.
After I left this sweet lady safe and sound at the center (with the ramp–she was so delighted to see that ramp! Its presence a small proof of her memory still holding on to something!), I walked home and couldn’t help thinking … Wouldn’t it be helpful if instead of this little old lady, some of those who thrive on cruel manipulation, got a touch of dementia?
Irreverent simplicity.
Oh, dementia is no joke, and I did not and do not intend to trivialize it!
Nonetheless I found myself considering how safer our world would be if those who connive to hurt and harm, forgot how to … and instead became immersed in small-radius-activities of afternoon bingo and word-searches. If tyrants and terrorists of all types of violent intrusions, lost interest in victimizing or power-hunger, and instead had their world contract around organized daily existences in protective housing someplace … to be occupied with lunch and naps and no longer be capable of manipulation and scheming …
Just saying.
They would be a far more deserving audience for a bit of dementia, than this sweet woman and so many the world over whose full heart and intellect we can use.
Wouldn’t it be helpful, I thought, to have the wish-to-harm turn dull in those who relish spreading agony?
At least until the shuttle to Pluto was ready …
pluto-stamp