Yesterday, I woke up at an odd hour and decided to go to the all night diner for a bite to eat just to be out of the house. As I’m walking down the side street towards Broadway, I hear all sorts of scratching which I’m pretty sure must be rats. Suddenly, one dashes out and comes so close to me he bushes the toe of my sneaker. I had to slow my pace slightly to avoid stepping on him. Rats don’t scare me. I understand for sanitary reasons we need to keep their numbers under control, but otherwise I think they’re pretty nice little animals. So, if the rats in New York are getting me jumpy, I think the city might be losing the fight.
As I approach the corner of West End Avenue, I see what looks like a large tom cat. I’m wondering if I should try approaching it. At first I assume it’s a stray, but as I get closer he looks far too chubby. Maybe someone’s cat got loose. Maybe he has a collar. I start to cross the street. He sees me and starts to clamber up the scaffolding surrounding a near by building. The fat body and clumsy movements belong to no cat. Clearly, this is a racoon, not in a park, taking an early morning stroll down West End.
I eat my lunch, breakfast, dinner, or whatever it is you eat at four in the morning then head back to my apartment briefly.When the sun’s up, I head out for my morning walk in the park.
I pass by a spot where a few days ago, I saw a robin tending a nest. Lying on the ground were two, lifeless, featherless chicks. It hadn’t been especially windy the night before and I wondered if some predator had tried to get them, but they why were they still there?
I walked bit further and a large bird flew towards me and landed in a tree that was right next to my right shoulder. I looked up and there was a red-tailed hawk just a few feet above me in a low branch. I was surprised that he or she seemed so comfortable being so close for such an extended period of time.
Later, a squirrel ran up to me and stared right at me. I know. It’s New York. He’s probably been fed by people before. I didn’t have anything to give him and probably wouldn’t have given it to him if I did because I would want to encourage that behavior. Still, it was funny.
And I wish I had a camera.