Scenes of a city summer

Usually I return from vacation at the end of summer on Labor Day. This year I took an early vacation and came back on Memorial Day. Imagine the pleasure on my return: The entire summer lay before me.

A summer day in New York City:

To begin, breakfast alfresco. I munch on a doughnut at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue beneath the bust of Richard Morris Hunt, architect of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Walking through the Central Park Zoo on the way to the subway, I cast envious eyes at the cool sea lions and polar bears frolicking in their pools.

Tourists photograph squirrels who are willing subjects when offered peanuts. In a city of performers, park squirrels are no exception.

The subway platform is a furnace. When I board the incoming train, I break into a smile. An air- conditioned subway car brings welcome relief from the heat.

Tourists are on the subway heading downtown to the World Trade Center and the Battery for boat trips to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. They huddle over their maps like generals on maneuvers.

My office in SoHo is cool and comfortable. At midday I brave the streets. On the hottest of days, the tar roadway is softened by the heat.

I eat lunch outdoors, sitting on a shaded step on West Broadway.

On returning home, I pass the restaurant across the street from where I live. In the summer, the owner places tables and flower boxes on the sidewalk, a charming addition to the neighborhood.

Summer is the season of long days. At 7 p.m. I take advantage of the remaining daylight to bicycle in the park and watch a softball game. I position myself in the stands to view the dramatic city skyline towering high above the southern end of the park.

After the game ends, I ride my bicycle in the park, red lights flashing on the handlebars and behind the seat. Other bicyclists and runners are out in force. The park is many degrees cooler than the stifling streets. A procession of horse-drawn carriages, filled with yet more tourists, joins us.

Carriage horses snorting. Singing birds. The sound of cascading water at Bethesda Fountain. Crickets. Here are country sounds in the heart of a great city.

Darkness descends. Hosts of fireflies strive to illuminate the meadows.

Central Park is my summer garden. New York City, my summer home.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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