New York City Green-Walk
(for my brother, Jared at Tokyo Greenspace —http://tokyogreenspace.com)
You can walk in the woods for about an hour in the city. This walk in Riverside Park is one of my favorites.
I particularly like the Forever Wild bird sanctuary. If you keep your eye looking straight ahead, you see nothing but trees. It’s a sliver of a walk, hemmed in by the main central promenade and West Side Highway below and the apartments on Riverside Drive above. Shut your eyes and the traffic from the highway sounds like a waterfall.
Any kind of walk is subject to shifts in perspective (seasonal changes in air and light, psychological shifts in mood). But “nature walks” in the city are especially subject to more radical, perspectival shifts. A tilt of the head or a shift in the eye generates radically heterogeneous visual impressions whose appearance is sudden.
Is the appearance of nature in the city just an illusion? Not if you don’t pretend that it’s something that it’s not. It’s real enough. I’ve never seen a pigeon or a rat in Forever Wild. In addition to the ubiquitous squirrels and sparrows, I’ve seen blue jays and a resident hawk. I once happened upon a hawk-crow fight. Apparently they hate each other. The crow taunted the hawk and then swooped off when chased.
A habitual walk cuts a groove into space. If you do this every day, this is what you see when you track your attention.
Heidegger had his Schwarzwald. This will do. The advantage: no Nazis!
(for more information: http://www.nycgovparks.org/greening/nature-preserves/)