All walks are different, even in the deep snows of winter. This past week, walking at all has been challenging. Today, for example, I saw a large man slip and fall on the ice near the busy bus stop at Fordham Plaza in the Bronx. It's a hard thing to see, a big man falling in slow motion on hard ice, other than trying to compensate after the fall with an offer of help.
Yesterday, a Sunday, the conditions were terrible for walking, at least in a safe manner. Tiny pellets of ice, mixed with rain and snow, glazed every surface.
It was an odd week, all in all, for the weather in New York. Just last Wednesday, we had spring-like conditions, and the landscape shimmered in dew and green. People ate lunch outside, and birds took the change in weather as a cue to gather twigs and hunt for berries and bugs. Then, the next day, a vortex of low pressure sailed up the East Coast and dumped nearly a foot of snow on the New York region. School was cancelled. Intrepid types headed for the park, but it was nevertheless blustery, and some do not care for walking in a heavy wind.
Saturday, on the other had, was made for winter walking. Winter lovers could enjoy calm winds, sufficient footing in the snow's depths, and views of a glistening landscape. It was especially beautiful at night.
Residents of the Inwood neighborhood at the tiptop of Manhattan frequently enjoy the pleasures of a hilly winter landscape. Up in Washington Heights and beyond, the Manhattan of little hills has not been entirely leveled. With an old growth forest in Inwood Hill Park and views of where the island ends at the water, the Harlem and the Hudson Rivers and Spuyten Duyvil Creek, the winter scene settles into a timeless and almost mystical place of contemplation. Toward the south, views of The Cloisters high atop Fort Tryon Park seem to erase the work of centuries, even if the medieval outpost of The Met was built during the Great Depression.
Bereft of leaves, the hilly landscape in this northernmost part of Manhattan is made even more dreamlike with the presence of New York's graceful and distinctive lampposts. At dusk, the lampposts are mesmerizing, as if invisible torchbearers are lighting the way for an important journey.
The ephemeral winter visions of ancient New York come and go, and you're lucky if you can catch them. The residents up here know a good snow day when they see it, especially if it falls on a weekend. On Saturday, the local eatery Indian Road Cafe was packed, like a mountain ski lodge at peak season. Taking in the views of the hill line, salt-water marshes, the Henry Hudson Bridge, and abundant skies, it's hard to believe this is the same island as the one with skyscrapers and Times Square.
The forecast for this coming weekend promises another foreshadowing of spring. That's another pleasure.
When winter weather comes again, watch your step on the snow and ice, but never miss a chance to enjoy a snowy landscape at night.
Note: Visiting Inwood Hill Park is easy. Take the A train to its final destination at 207th Street, and walk west toward the hills.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Saturday, February 11, 2017.