What limited appreciation I have for the natural world comes largely from my grandfather. Left to my own devices, I’m the sort of person who believes that lack of air conditioning and an overabundance of insects make the great outdoors unfit for human habitation, but Grandpa is more broad-minded.
When I was little, I sometimes joined him when he visited the family’s old overgrown farm on Terra Ceia Island on the gulf coast. There I learned to identify a few marine birds (herons, egrets, anhingas, osprey) and to climb citrus trees to reach fruit on the higher branches. Those trips were fun, but Grandpa finds plenty to appreciate in our small-town backyards, as well. He leaves peanuts on window ledges so we can see the squirrels up close through the glass when they come to snack. He e-mails us about various celestial happenings—a lunar eclipse, a meteor shower, Mars particularly low in the night sky—and urges us to watch for them. He cultivates vegetables and flowers in his backyard garden and greenhouse, and though I’ve never been any help to him, I enjoy tagging after him to watch him examine the greenery when I visit.
So when I heard Grandpa was coming to visit us in New York, I knew immediately that I wanted him to see Central Park and the Bronx Zoo. In mid-March, still not quite spring, it wasn’t an ideal time for either, but we had a good time. At the very least there weren’t any mosquitoes out to sting us.
A few photographs, courtesy of Dad, after the jump …