For most of March I walked. All over Manhattan and Boston. Mostly alone, sometimes with friends, but always surrounded by people. I was on an eternal search for a tree to escape in, away from they countless eyes. Having a friend gives me a slight boost in confidence, feeling as though they could explain the situation to diffuse a problem. I suppose my urge to go unseen is added strain, but on an otherwise very carefree vacation.
I took the subway to Brooklyn to spend the afternoon in Prospect Park. The place is huge! And there are many interesting, large, and beautiful trees (like the one above which I was tempted to climb but did not due to the fence around it.)
I ran around the park searching and searching till this tree caught my eye:
From a distance it looks like a normal tree with a normal canopy. But as I got closer I realized the entire top of this tree all came from one limb.
The rest of the trunk had been damaged and left a gaping hole filled with decaying matter.
I walked from my brother’s place on Grove in the West Village all the way to Riverside Park on the Upper West Side to this part of the park on 105th. When I first saw the large monkey rings a few days before on my first trip to the park, I thought I had died and gone to my personal heaven.
I crawled down the handrail like a cat and got right to swinging on the rings. I did it till my arms wore out.
The entire time I was there, there was also a man on a slack line he had set up between the steel posts of the rings. We got to talking and he invited me to join in the slack lining. I had done it a few times before and balance training is a favorite of mine.
Once tired of that, I started to look around the immediate area for a tree to climb. I found a nice tall tree at the edge of the concrete by a picnic table and got to climbing. My arms were worn but I managed to get to the top.
Once I was down I rejoined my new friend and he started to warn me about climbing trees. He said the cops in New York were getting ticket-happy to help raise funds and meet quotas. His friend got a ticket for riding his bike on the side walk and another got fined $80 for climbing a tree in Central Park! Great, I thought, all I need is more paranoia about climbing in a city that already puts me on edge.
A cold, dark and raining day in the city. I still walked all over but took a break and read a whole 300 page book at the Borders near Central Park in the afternoon. Then I ventured out into the park and found this tree amoungst the rocks on the edge of a pond.
I remember there being some foreign tourists coming up on the rocks behind me. They asked in thick German accents if they could take my picture. I said sure and then climbed down and bounced away on the rocks to the path.
Storm coming over Hoboken, NJ. I spent many moments at Battery Park leaving my camera behind and capturing shots with my cell phone.
There were quite a few rainy and cold days that I put off my climb. I’d end up roaming around somewhere near my brother’s place desperately looking for a tree I felt I wouldn’t get spotted in. I would often find myself in Washington Square Park. Once there I would often find Parker Posey walking her little white fluffy dog. I saw her three or four times during my stay in New York. All in the same spot.
Sunset over Hoboken.
St Patty’s Day. I walked to the Upper East Side of Central Park to watch the parade. But I didn’t stay long because I wasn’t trashed before noon like all the other people there who looked like they were enjoying the endless display of people in plaid.
I did spot a sweet new playground on the edge of the park. But the entrance gates were guarded by a few policemen who said the park was closed so drunk people couldn’t hurt themselves.
I walked into the park strolling aimlessly keeping an eye out for a good tree. I spotted a large oak that I had climbed with Nate the year before. I considered a reclimb but then saw this great tree with gnarly and numerous branches just nearby.
It was a good climb. I like it when the branches are so close I can slink between them without making a sound. The park was crowded with people and I felt invisible. I heard sirens and a few cop cars sped by and I hid behind the trunk. It was my signal to get down.
I went to my friend Garett’s with a six-pack, then later took the subway to Brooklyn to see Nate. We sat on the roof of his studio building watching the moon over the Manhattan skyline and we caught up on each others’ lives.
I took the Bolt Bus from NYC to Boston for like $13! Then took the T to Copley Square and met my friend James. He lives in the Back Bay and works in the big building near the square.
That night we walked back to the river and I climbed a tree as he played with his nice new Canon DSLR. I think he got better shots than I did.
The next day James and I walked all over Boston. We went from the Back Bay through Boston Common, Downtown and Beacon Hill and over the Charles. We stopped in and saw an exhibit at the MIT art department and toured the rest of the campus.
Then into Cambridge. Our feet really started to hurt so we headed back along the Charles. I stopped at a park and saw a tree near the water I wanted to climb. James stayed below and took more pictures. He really got into photography while I was there.
As I got towards the top I saw a couple crew skulls coming down the river.
I hurriedly got out my camera just before they turned the bend.
A gorgeous spring day in the Back Bay. The park along the river was packed with people. I found an awesome Weeping Willow with new buds and a challenging path up in the branches.
As I snaked my way around the bending limbs I spotted a small furry friend.
James awoke with a sense of purpose. He wanted to journey to the highest point in Boston and get a shot of the city. Bunker Hill. Which was a trek to get there. After plenty of trains and walking we reached the historical bump. ‘Cause thats all it was, a slight raise in elevation. Our position afforded us no great view of Boston. Even after climbing a tree near the monument, I couldn’t see much more than what was right around us.
As was often the case, James waited below reading news headlines on his iPhone.
Yet another cold gray day, and I was back in New York. I didn’t feel like climbing a difficult tree, nor did I want to spend many hours searching for one. So I went to Central Park and climbed a sprawling Beech I had climbed the year before. It is away from the foot paths and gave me the solitude and peace I often desire in that huge city.
Finally the sun returns. I went back to Central Park as did the rest of the city. I spent most of the time just trying to find a tree I could climb without people around. That park has its own police station, and an entire army of groundskeepers. I gave up and just climbed a tree in plain sight but only went up a few branches, shot a couple pictures and dropped back down. Damned city paranoia.
Thanks to James for permission to use his photographs. More of the trip still to come…