Chapter 9: The Conservatory Garden

(Lakatos, “Gypsy Song”)

conservatory gardens

The Conservatory Garden is my secret refuge where the tall wrought iron gate makes me feel like Alice entering Wonderland and steps take me through magic gardens. Small is big and the simplest is the most difficult of all.

How I love my City. Just a dozen blocks from my house and I travel to parts unknown to others that becomes so much mine.

Directly in front of the Georgian mansion that is the Museum of the City of New York at 104th Street and Fifth Avenue, is a part of Central Park that is savage and refined at the same time. Forbidding boulders and mysterious trees adorn brass fountains and statues of  bygone times.

One Spring day, like Mica, I entered Central Park and turned right instead of left and hiked north instead of south. The heavy wooded lane took me through paths unmarked and their twists become unexpected turns. I felt like a hiker trekking uncharted trails and wondered, should I be where no one is near? How is it possible I have never known this part of my beloved backyard?

And I forged forward until I saw a door more magnificent than anything before. A gift from a forgotten mansion that had christened this City the jewel of new Amsterdam.

The steps led me into a rectangular garden with terraced heights laced with boughs. I marveled at gardens to the left and right of intricate shapes, so well planned and cared for and I turned in delight to the music of birds everywhere.

Like Mica, I stopped and starred at two small children, brother and sister, frolicking in the fountain as if they were floating in an open sea. She brunette and he blond, together splashing and laughing until they were so wet that their mother came to fetch them.

I sat down and marveled at the simplicity of it all. The scene of a loving mother, watching, caring, and the children so happy in her arms. The simplest of beauty, the single line of love, symmetry and balance, the most difficult to find.

Like Mica, I lingered for more and listened to all three sing as if they were one. Sweet. Simple. Nothing more. And everything.

conservatory gardens