August 9, 2011

The Ramble - New York City, NY

After passing through Strawberry Fields, we moved on to the Ramble. As opposed to the manicured lawns and artfully gardened plots in other parts of Central Park, the Ramble is a natural landscape. It is 38-acre woodland respite that is home to some of Central Park's most famous attractions including: Belvedere Castle, Lower Bethesda Terrace, the Boathouse, and Bow Bridge (which I have previously mentioned as one of my top five most romantic places).

The Ramble was an integral part of Central Park's original design. It was created to be a "natural garden" that incorporates Manhattan bedrock, open glades an artificial stream, and intricate plantings of both native and non-native trees (Fun Fact: The Ramble is now mostly dominated by black cherry and black locust trees because they aggressively self-seed.) In the Ramble, it is easy to forget you are in New York City. As we walked along the dirt paths that are uneven with stones and fallen branches, I felt like was a kid again in the woods of Oklahoma. Lost among the trees and brush and rocky outcrops, it's hard for me to imagine that someone actually planted and designed it all. Nothing about it seems intentional. It is more like it all just rose up from the earth and simply is as all nature simply is.

The Ramble also has a slightly more illicit history. Throughout the twentieth century, the Ramble was a clandestine place for male lovers to meet. Men would go to the Ramble to meet other men and…enjoy the love that dare not speak its name. (Please note I’m trying to find really, really tactful ways to say these things. So bear with me and I promise to keep Wilde references to a minimum). As times have changed and society become more tolerant, the Ramble has become more popular for nature hikes than secret rendezvouses. But it retains its status as a New York gay icon, or at least the New York gay icon pre-dating Christopher Street.

Our visit to the Ramble was without the drama of illicit love affairs. No, we were simply a group of about 30 people dressed in wedding attire traipsing through the brush along the stony dirt paths. Although we did have some drama.

As we were walking through the Ramble, a very surprising thing happened. Someone tripped and fell. Well, that’s not really the surprising part. The surprising part is that it wasn't me. I have an impressive ability to hurt myself in random accidents. This includes tripping, slipping, falling, and on one occasion I split my finger open on a spoon (although in my defense it was a particularly sharp spoon). When we first realized someone had fallen, Joel turned around expecting to find me face down in the dirt. I also expected to find myself face down in the dirt. But to our infinite shock and amazement, I was upright and at no point fell or injured myself on our ramble through the Ramble.

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