Sometimes you just want to sit somewhere quiet, with a cup of coffee and a lemon scone.
Living in Manhattan during the pandemic lockdown, we’ve gotten a lot of concerned phone calls from people wondering how we’ve managed being cooped up in our apartment, with no backyard or balcony to ease the cabin fever. Maybe we’re just used to urban living, but generally we’ve felt pretty lucky to be quarantining in the city we love—even luckier that we live just a few blocks from Central Park .
A few weeks ago (I think it was around March 97th), I was texting with my friend Hilda about how we’ve each been exploring different areas of the park. What if we ran into each other? we wondered. And what if we also happened to have snacks with us? Thus, our first plan for a social-distance picnic was born.
It was on the early side of a Saturday morning when we met Hilda and her husband, Santi, in our new favorite part of the park, the Hallett Nature Sanctuary. Tucked away in the southernmost part of Central Park, its winding paths really make you feel like you could be in a state park off the Taconic Parkway; that is, until you look up and see the skyscrapers of Central Park South. And if you follow the path to the end, you are rewarded with a little hideaway that was made for distance picnics!
We sat on opposite sides of the cul-de-sac and had our coffee and pastries: Hilda brought chocolate chip zucchini bread, and we brought lemon scones, each packed in separate, sanitized containers. We sat there all morning and caught up as all kinds of woodland creatures gathered around us in an eerie, early-Disney-movie kind of way, as if the recent scarcity of humans on their turf had given them a new sense of confidence (or perhaps they are just hungry).
A cardinal landed so close, I thought he was going to sit on my lap. As we left the sanctuary, we saw a family of raccoons who were definitely not keeping six feet away.
Considering we hadn’t had a picnic since last September, this was truly a breaking of our picnic fast and the most important meal of the year!