On a Long Winter Break

Walking Off the Big Apple, like a bear in winter, is currently taking a long winter's nap. When the days grow warmer in the springtime, you may see increasing signs of activity.

Or not. We may have reached the end of this journey.

Life goes on in the city, and new adventures await. We shall see.


For now, though, enjoy the past decade of WOTBA adventures, and the ones of your own creation.

Note: The FB page for Walking Off the Big Apple is also currently asleep. You may also remember that this website bid a fond farewell in 2013 and then came back in 2015. There are no easy endings in blogland.

New York City Fall Calendar 2018

Vernon Duke (1903-1969), né Vladimir Dukelsy, wrote the music and lyrics for "Autumn in New York," the jazz standard that originated in the 1934 Broadway musical Thumbs Up!. The bittersweet lyrics call forth the sight of autumn in the big city, "the promise of new love," and a grateful acceptance of inevitable change and loss.

Autumn in Central Park, New York City

No wonder Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Billy Holiday, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, and a hundred of other crooners wanted to record such a wistful song. The notes themselves, falling like leaves, were enough for the likes of Charlie Parker and the Modern Jazz Quartet. Read more, and listen.

The calendar includes most major events through the fall season. A New York City Winter Calendar will be published in December.

Seasonal Changes

• Peak fall foliage
The peak fall foliage in NYC usually occurs in late October and the first two weeks of November, coinciding with Halloween festivities and the New York City Marathon.

The NYC Parks website maintains a list of fall foliage events around the city’s parks.

Autumn colors uptown. At the Met Cloisters with a view of the George Washington Bridge

Great places to enjoy fall colors include the Bronx Zoo, Wave Hill, Fort Tryon Park, Inwood Hill Park, Central Park, and Prospect Park.

• First frost date
According to the Victory Seeds company website, the average first frost in NYC is October 27.

• Fall bird migration
September and October are the months to watch for fall bird migration. Keep an eye our for hawks and bald eagles as well as song bird migration.

• Weather maps
The National Weather Service has issued 3-month probability maps for temperature and precipitation in the U.S. The maps indicate the probability of a warmer and wetter season than normal. 

Delacroix’s Cats

Following its record-breaking debut at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the blockbuster Delacroix exhibit has opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While not all of the works could travel, as some are intrinsic to the Louvre, the big cats made the trip to the city. For the Delacroix exhibit poster, the Met has selected Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother, the artist’s great and surprising painting from 1830, as the signature and defining work of the exhibition.

Eugène Delacroix, (French, 1798–1863). Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother (Study of Two Tigers), 1830. Oil on canvas, 52 x 76.6 in. (130 x 195 cm). Musée du Louvre, Paris. © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Franck Raux

Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863), known as the leading Romantic painter of his era, loved cats. His many notebooks show preparatory sketches of lions, tigers, and several charming domestic cats. The big cats, for the most part, made it into big paintings. At 52 x 76.6 in. (130 x 195 cm), Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother, 1830, is astonishingly large for an animal painting of his time, a size normally devoted to a history painting. His most famous work, La Liberté guidant le peuple, dates from the same year. 

When Young Tiger was shown at the Salon in Paris in 1831, critics could hardly get over it. Why did Delacroix feel so moved to paint such a scene?

“This unusual artist has never painted a man who looks like a man in the way his tiger looks like a tiger.”

In the 1820s, the artist made several visits to the Jardin des Plantes and Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris. He shared how he felt in his notebook:

"Extraordinary animals! … I had a feeling of happiness as soon as I entered the place and the further I went the stronger it grew. I felt my whole being rise above commonplaces and trivialities and the petty worries of my daily life. What an immense variety of animals and species of different shapes and functions! At every turn, I saw what we call deformity side by side with what seems to us to be beauty and grace of form… The tigers, the panthers, the jaguars, the lions, etc. Why is it that these things have stirred me so much? Can it be because I have gone outside the everyday thoughts that are my world; away from the street that is my entire universe? How necessary it is to give oneself a shake from time to time, to stick one’s head out of doors and try to read from the book of life that has nothing in common with cities and the works of man. No doubt about it, this excursion has done me good and has made me feel better and calmer.” (L. Norton, trans., The Journal of Eugène Delacroix, London, 1995, pp. 57-58)

While an embrace of wild nature and emotions are characteristic of the Romantic movement, there’s something almost Zen-like in Delacroix’s reaction. Delacroix says the big cats “made me feel better and calmer.” By focusing on his observation of the animals, leisurely at one moment but able to strike swiftly into action in the next, the painter could form an identification of sorts.