In late December, I was running down West Drive in Central Park when I noticed a congregation of bystanders clustering under a thicket of trees close to the 81st street entrance. Living in Manhattan for three years has conditioned me to expect the worst of such abnormalities, but the tone of the crowd was undeniably festive, even genial. I noticed that people were gesturing excitedly with their thick mittens to a tree branch, smiling at one another, gesticulating wonderment. I paused my music and slowed my pace and then — Well, what the hell? I thought to myself. Curious, I approached and craned my neck, immediately spotting an enormous bald eagle perched majestically on one of the barren branches.
“Isn’t it amazing?” I heard someone say. I found myself smiling and nodding loosely in the voice’s direction.
“This one has been seen in Riverside Park, too,” said someone else.
“Is that right? Wow,” said another, and a shuffling, pleased concurrence rippled through the pack of us. People would peel off, smiling and nodding knowingly at one another, holding up gloved hands in loose gestures of affable departure.
I resumed my run a minute or two later, and when I got home, I told Mr. Magpie:
“Oh man, I just witnessed the biggest ice cream moment.”
Mr. Magpie is routinely moved by people waiting in line for ice cream cones. I first learned this about him when we lived on Armitage Avenue in Lincoln Park in Chicago, around the corner from Annette’s Italian Ice. In warm weather, a trail of wiggling children, families, and the occasional singleton would wind past Annette’s ice cream window down Bissell Street.
“Look at those people,” he would say, as we’d scurry toward the L. “I mean, all they want is a little scoop of ice cream. There’s no ulterior motive there — just pure enjoyment. That’s all they’re after.”
I knew what he meant. Ordering ice cream is guileless, childlike, frivolous in the best way. And waiting patiently in line to order ice cream only underscores the point: “I want this simple treat, and I’m willing to wait politely for it.”
I felt the same surge of poignancy observing those Manhattanites in Central Park that morning. New Yorkers are of the tough, direct, non-meandering ilk. In fact, if I am walking down the street and someone appears to be moving at a lackadaisical pace, I near-instinctively afford him a wide berth, assuming something’s off. New Yorkers tend to keep to themselves, too, out of tempered self-preservation — under normal circumstances, if someone waves me over with a mittened hand, I keep moving. (Trust me, most of the time, you should keep moving.) But here I witnessed a band of city-dwellers stalled and clustered under a tree, collectively enthralled by the rarity of a big bird in our big city. There was no possible trace of chicanery, ill-will, untowardness: just ten or twelve human beings, standing still together, united in the simplest of pleasures.
I needed to see that — to observe the brittle edges of these times give way to the shared tenderness beneath.
+Thanks to the reader who recommended these Beyond Yoga cropped tanks (on sale in green here!). I bought one of those and also one of these sports bras from Splits59 (they also have a cropped tank style!)
+More fitness finds here.
+Brides rejoice: this is such a chic (Chanel-esque) ivory dress for a shower/luncheon/engagement portrait/etc.
+Random kitchen splurge that has brought me joy for years (purchased before I was married!): an Emile Henry ceramic salt pig. I keep it out on the counter and it makes seasoning a cinch.
+Oh my gosh, this personalized scalloped bib is beyond. If you’re having a big smash cake moment with a professional photographer and all that, this is your ticket! (More birthday outfit finds for little ones here.)
+Just ordered micro these cute little jeans.
+And this gingham crib sheet is darling, too (also on sale).
+Just the prettiest top, especially paired with white jeans.
+Damn! These Le Monde Beryl loafers are SO chic and marked down from close to $400 to only $82. Why aren’t they in my size any more?!
+LOVE this credit card holder.
+I still love this tiny detangling brush. Perfect for keeping in a purse / travel.
+Love these evil eye bracelets from Asha as a gift for a friend weathering a storm.
+Upgrading your drinking glass collection? I got you.