It is a bit cool this day in Washington Square Park. But infinitely warmer than yesterday, who’s cold wind and falling snow kept even the birds hiding. Spring took a day off. Despite the Fahrenheit reading, warm does not describe it well. Occasional drops of rain tease and warn of the day’s potential. It is bright, sunny. If given a chance, it might even be warm, but each breeze knocks all strength from the sun.
Young, fresh faces criss-cross the park, some lounging in the bright coldness, hoping for more. Warmth can only be glimpsed but not embraced. Washington Square Park, well, more concrete really than “Park.” In this “park,” grass and trees have a place, but it’s not their place. The place is owned by bricks, concrete, statues and an archway. And, a central fountain, not yet awake from it’s waterless winter, dominates the scenery. The youth own the park in a way that grass and trees or bricks and concrete never could. They transform it.
Over there a twenty-something plays beggar-cum-preacher in the winterized fountain. Retelling the story of Peter or Paul, it doesn’t matter which, for a dime, dollar, or quarter. A ministry of the park. His homelessness is not apparent, he proclaims and redeems it nonetheless. The park is also an endless buffet of styles, types, and archetypes: the punk, the preppy, the lovers, the bum, the hip, and the hop. Many pass through. A few linger. They pause to absorb the sun, shed the cold, and move after a while to the rhythm of the wind and trees.
The trees themselves are spare. Some lack greenery altogether. Others have adolescent leaves just emerging to start their two-season run. Like the young students who amble by, the trees with newness on their limbs are filled with hope of the coming seasons. They both have the hope of the young with more ahead than behind. There’s great beauty at this time, before the leaves are large and a darker shade of green. Great excitement lingers in the half warm, half cold air of a new spring.