Shifting Perspective: Playing In the Rain

red panda

“This weather is awful,” I overheard the sad-sounding med student say. She was standing outside a hospital on the upper east side of Manhattan on a wet and chilly spring day earlier this week. She looked as if this breath of fresh air was all she’d had to look forward to all day. It seemed like a small but real devastation for her that her breath of fresh air was decidedly drizzly.

And me? I was on a half-day play date with the love of my life and I marveled at how different the same drizzly day looked from my perspective.

Was it wet? It was. Did I need to keep moving to keep from getting too chilly? I did. But we also made some wonderful discoveries as a consequence of being willing (and being blessed/lucky enough to be able) to see what might happen if we set out to enjoy ourselves anyway.

We walked into the Conservatory Gardens near the northeast corner of Central Park and found that the tulips and daffodils and flowering trees and lilacs didn’t seem to mind the rain a bit. I had never been there before and was reminded of how full of myriad little gems New York City truly is. The dampness in the air even seemed to make the lilacs smell sweeter.

Then we decided to get on a bus and head to the Central Park Zoo. It’s not the biggest zoo, so it doesn’t have the biggest crew of animals. But I think the combination of cooler weather and no crowds (we weren’t the only people there, but the staff definitely outnumbered the visitors) contributed to the animals’ willingness to hang out where people could easily see them. The red panda whose picture I snapped (doing its best performance of “Humans? I generally  ignore those”) was quite content to groom itself, wander around its enclosure, and generally be extremely visible to the two humans who were there to admire it. And its companion was curled up napping in the cutest ball-of-panda just a few feet from where we were standing.

Even more spectacular was the snow leopard. When I’ve visited this enclosure before, I’ve always been in a crowd of people pushing up against the glass while we engage in spontaneous choruses of “Can you see it? Is that it way up there? There’s nothing in this enclosure!” all while bobbing our heads back and forth and swaying with and against one another trying to catch the slightest glimpse. On our rainy day visit, she (the Zoo volunteer referred to the feline as a “she” and who am I to judge) was lounging on her heated rock ledge about fifteen or twenty feet from us, all long fluffy tail and magical inscrutability. And then she jumped down and came even closer before deciding she was done with us for the day and making her majestic exit.

By the time we scooted out of the city (almost) before rush hour, we were physically damp but uplifted in spirit.

I feel so lucky to have have been able to look out at that weather as something other than “awful” and to have a companion willing to explore with me in this ongoing adventure.

Any adventures in shifted perspectives you’d care to share?

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