Growing up in Florida, I took nature for granted as one often does when surrounded by abundance. I’ve lived in the concrete jungle of New York City for nine years, surrounded by abundance of a different kind; culture, arts, cuisine, shopping, not to mention population density. Recently, I was hit with the realization that I was getting seriously deficient in Vitamin Nature. It nourishes me, and without it, I am not whole. Unfortunately, one can’t fill this need by popping a pill (sorry New Yorkers). So I had to get my fix the old-fashioned way…by deviating from my usual daytime route from apartment to subway to work–and back again–and completely revel in the outdoors. My mission was to find oases of nature in NYC that rejuvenated my body and soul, centered my spirit, and ignited inspiration.
Gantry Plaza State Park
Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City has a 180° view of the NYC skyline, quiet atmosphere, and no dog rule–so I felt comfortable in my decision to sit in the grass. The combination of the warm sun and the gentle breeze was intoxicating. My eyelids became too weighty to remain open as my body melted into the earth. I felt heavy. Warm. Grounded. Immobile. I could have sunk into the ground and grown roots I was so relaxed. The verdict? I will certainly frequent here often for whole body and mind relaxation.
Since Central Park is so expansive and has such variety, I decided to try one of the world’s famous parks. At The Lake near West 72nd Street, I happened upon a cute gazebo that looks out over a lake sprinkled with row-boaters, willow trees, and bridges. You sacrifice some privacy here as this picturesque site is a hot spot for camera-toting tourists…but I think it’s beauty and tranquility outweigh this flaw. I had one of those moments where I was grateful to live in a city with a plethora of opportunities for outdoor activities. Central Park is indeed a gem and I hadn’t taken advantage of its generosity and beauty. I will certainly return to this location for spirit-centering, especially if my water element is feeling neglected.
The Mall & Literary Walk/Bethesda Terrace/Sheep Meadow
The last place I chose was The Mall and Literary Walk between 66th and 72nd Street in the middle of Central Park. It’s better for people watching than nature nurturing, but this is one of New York City’s idyllic spots and is great for satisfying tree canopy cravings. I could see this location being a cornucopia of inspiration potential. And the area itself is excellent for my nature needs–The Lake is nearby along with the beautiful Bethesda Terrace and enormous but quiet Sheep Meadow.
So while New York City might not have the same type of natural landscape of my native Florida, it does offer wonderful spots to commune with nature. I think all New Yorkers would benefit from a little respite from the hustle and bustle that is a NYC life, and spend it reconnecting to ourselves and satisfying our innate need for nature.
What nature nooks get you recharged and rebalanced? What’s your connection to nature, how does it give back to you? If you live in a city, how do you deal with nature malnourishment?