as we amble off through the Thain Forest–the largest enduring old-growth tract in the New York City vicinity–at the New York Botanical Garden, paying heed to the recorded forest bathing app the Garden has thoughtfully provided. These woodlands offer just some of NYBG’s 30,000 trees.
I’ve been thinking about kindness. Have been telling folks on tours at Ellis Island that back in the hospital’s heyday, people were kind to each other. Were they really? Are they still? Here at the NYBG, they’ve been kind to one of the iconic tulip trees, bandaging it up against the exigencies of old age. The equally senescent little-leaf linden, brawny as it is old, doesn’t need any help, thank you very much.
I see a sweet chestnut hull. It had been kind to its seed, cushioning it and fending off attackers with its prickers. Kousa dogwood offers its fruit so generously for the birds.
It’s a quiet day, cool, calm, lucid. The season offers its early-autumn bounty.
A gentleman shows off his skills with a stick. Good for your balance, and your fingers! he tells me with a smile.
At the NYBG farmer’s market, a person generously offers worms for composting, to the strains of a nearby harp – something you do not see every day in the Five Boroughs, a kindness here in the Bronx.
We find ourselves distracted by the rose garden. The kindness of the head gardener, who although camera shy and quite busy with raking mulch takes a little time to talk about the various cultivars on hand. Wish it were possible to capture fragrance in a photo.
The kindness of schoolgirls willing to pose for an old fogey with an Iphone, their faces blossoms.
In Thain Forest, the forest bathing app drones: Bring your attention to your ears…feeling whatever sensations are happening…be aware of the sounds around you… you might feel tingling sensations…all that matters is that you notice them…and drift away…
NYBG cares for the oldest, the biggest, like one impressive American elm – and also the smallest and most vulnerable, in their plant nursery.
Be kind to the bedding plants! Water on hand, ready to provide protection even in the virgin forest, which is after all really a part of New York City.
We took our time. The farm stands are winding down. One is kind enough to sell eleven dollar’s worth of yellow onions and white donut peaches as they pack it in for the day.
Sometimes – not always – kindness abounds.