Recent posts--Overview and HwyH2O--tuned into the perspective of looking down from above. Now let's shift our perspective 180 degrees and look up.
After a warm spring Saturday spent mostly in Central Park, I returned home for dinner with the intention of returning to the park to enjoy twilight. But, by the time dinner was over I had lost my motivation. With my teenage daughter absorbed in end-of-semester exam prep and paper writing, I felt like being nearby. Had we a porch or patio, I would have delighted in stepping out onto it to enjoy the warm spring evening while my daughter continued with her homework indoors.
One of the challenges of living in a city like New York is that it's not so easy to step outside from our homes. We apartment dwellers can't just open a door and walk onto a patio, lawn, field, or forest. Going outside is a production, requiring walking down flights of stairs, or a ride in an elevator. A favorite anecdote highlights this difference. I was in the country with my girls, at a house with a sliding door leading to an outside deck. My older daughter, who must have been about five at the time, pulled the door open and stepped outside, shut the door, then pulled it open again and stepped back inside, and repeated this several times, all the while saying, "Inside. Outside. Inside. Outside." A city kid, she was marveling at the realization that she so easily could transition from indoors and outdoors, a transition that is far more complex in her city home.
When the days are getting longer and the air is warmer, I miss the ability to just step outside. I begin to feel a bit out of sorts, claustrophobic perhaps, as if entombed, and think about growing up in a leafy New York suburb. As I kid on an evening like this I likely would be playing kickball with the neighboring kids until our mothers called out for us to come home for dinner. We'd quickly chow down our meals and run back outside to continue the game until near darkness.
No longer motivated to walk the few blocks to the park, I decided to head to the roof of my building, a flight of stairs up from my apartment. The building's roof is unfinished, and the view would not be considered exceptional. There's no direct view of the sunrise or sunset, no view of water or a park. A small, low-slung building, we are surrounded by larger buildings blocking any possibility of seeing the horizon.
But the view upward is not blocked.
My initial intent was to read, and although the book I'm reading is engaging, a voice inside me kept saying, "notice where you are." I put the book down, reclined in my on-the-ground adjustable hiking seat, and began to notice the sky. Layers of clouds moved across the great blue expanse, with clouds higher up illuminated by the setting sun, giving them yellow-pink tinge. Grayer clouds below portended predicted rain. And all the while, in a faint rhythm of surges and releases, a warm breeze enveloped me and let go, the same wind that was making the clouds move, the same wind that was making the branches of trees wave in a penthouse garden across the street. Every few minutes a plane crossed the sky, people in motion within a sky in motion. A helicopter buzzed across at a distance, like a mechanical firefly. As the daylight dimmed, lights in apartments begin to flick on. I stood up to wander about and from a new viewpoint, no longer blocked by a neighboring building, could see the moon in the south east sky, a halo surrounding its glow. Ever in a cycle of change, it was now a waxing gibbous, but in a few days would be a full moon, May's "Full Flower Moon". The world around me was in a cycle of motion and change.
For over an hour, I looked upward from the unadorned rooftop, enchanted by the movement above and around me, seeing it with my eyes, feeling the warm wind touch my skin. The nearby buildings seemed small. The sky felt infinite.
About this Blog
Hi! I'm Nancy Kopans, founder of Urban Edge Forest Therapy. Join me on an adventure to discover creative ways to connect with nature in your daily life, ways that are inspired by urban surroundings that can reveal unexpected beauty, with the potential to ignite a sense of wonder.