UWS Encounters: A Bird and a Biker

Photograph by Stephen Harmon.

“It all didn’t seem true.”

I was working from home, and a little bird visited my windowsill for the first time, and chirped something for a few minutes. It was hopping back and forth, almost as if trying to tell me something. Let me in? I paused, thankful to see and hear a cute little bird in a time of chaos and uncertainty. I walked further toward the window and the bird flew away. I saw it soar, then viewed the desolate streets. A man was doing pull-ups on the monkey bars at the playground. I missed the crowd. Before the pandemic, I had a habit of watching Youtube videos of open roads, abandoned malls, forgotten towns, and serene beaches to get my mind off the round-the-clock hustle and bustle. But now, all of that was coming true, and the same quietness was right before me.

It all didn’t seem true.

Perhaps the bird was thinking the same, letting out its cry for salvation. Don’t worry, bird, we are all in this together.

 — Sean Kawakami

“…it felt familiar — almost normal — again.”

It was a sunny Friday, late afternoon, and I was taking a solo stroll through Central Park — and so was the rest of the neighborhood, it seemed. People were trying to be cautious and to maintain the recommended six feet distance apart from each other. It felt pretty unfamiliar. Before when I passed by other solo strollers, we would glance at each other, exchange smiles, and be on our way. That day, however, everyone I passed seemed to sense that I was near, not really look at me, look down or away. It was as if being physically distant wasn’t enough — they had to be mentally distant as well. Out of sight, out of mind. Totally understandable though, given the current situation. Anyway, I was just about to leave the park when a biker was on his way in. He saw me, smiled, and said “Have a nice night!” I smiled back, and returned the sentiment. It felt familiar — almost normal — again.

—Alex Zhang

Send your encounters, reflections, poems and short essays — 175 words or less — to westsiderag@gmail.com. Please include your real name. This is a chance to share your thoughts and feelings during this unprecedented time, and, perhaps, to uplift or inspire others. Please encourage your children to participate. Make it a writing assignment. They will love seeing their names ”in print.” Photographs of drawings are welcome.

For a jumpstart, read more of our Encounters columns here.

COLUMNS | 11 comments | permalink
    1. Griff says:

      That’s a beautiful reflection by Alex but I have to ask, especially after having our worst day of 500 deaths here in the city, what are you doing out? You’re putting yourself and everybody else you know and don’t know, at risk. If you care about the community and the people putting their lives at risk every day, please do your part and unless it’s absolutely essential – – – STAY HOME!

      • Uncommon Scold says:

        Ahh, yes…stay home…unless:
        1. you are definitely NOT contagious;
        2. you ARE wearing a secure mask; and
        3. you DO maintain the recommended 6-foot social distance from others.

        AND, while staying home, you, too, can amuse yourself by engaging in the new sport of the self-rightous: COVID19-SHAMING.

        • Griff says:

          Gosh I dunno, maybe because it’s…….

          COMMON SENSE

          We are in a pandemic, people are dying.

          What part of this do you not understand?

          We are in the epicenter, if we do not stay in, EVERYBODY is at risk.

    2. F. Shtopp says:

      GREAT PHOTO by Stephen Harmon !

      The rain-splattered windshield turns an ordinary snapshot into so much more.

    3. Hearing more birds than ever singing every day. Such joyful and welcomed sounds.

    4. Billie B says:

      First -Gorgeous picture –did you print a similar window rainy day shot about a year ago?
      B) What is all the screaming about someone getting some sun? NOONE is saying you should hole up and not go out ever. You should can get fresh air using plenty of distancing and wearing gloves, face covering etc. He/She is not a spring breaker. There are crazy pastors preaching to packed houses so have a little sense of perspective please.

      • Griff says:

        Read the real news and take advice from the medical community pleading with people to stay home. Just because you can’t see the volatile state of things, does not mean that it does not exist. Yes, those Spring Breakers are idiots and the Clergy gathering is insane but how does that make lollygagging in the sun any different. You’re being exposed, you’re exposing others. This is a very dense epicenter of infection, I can’t believe I have to explain this. Just look at Europe and China and listen to the professionals putting their lives on the line for you every day. I think my perspective is pretty good, unless it’s essential, STAY HOME, if not, you’re only making matters worse.

        • Billie B says:

          Griff–It is attitudes like yours which lead to mass hysteria and stories like the NYT one of a visiting volunteer Dr told to get out by a co-op. You cannot catch/spread Covid-19 by looking at someone half a park away from you. I *am* very up on the news. I also cover it. So I know that with precautions, people should be able to take a short walk to get food etc, safely distanced without people like you bullying him or her into being shut ins.

          • Griff says:

            What part of “unless it’s essential” did you not get in my message? Look, I’m not trying to bully anyone, and if I came off like that, my apologies. But encouraging people to go out when it’s not necessary and downplaying this crisis is the last thing we need to be doing at the moment. Looking down on Broadway at any given moment, I can easily count 20-30 people walking around. Families with baby carriages, kids on scooters, this lock down is accomplishing nothing if it’s ignored, and I’d like to think that we’re at least trying, but it’s really not looking that way.

            • Billie B says:

              Grrrff -did you watch the Cuomo presser Sunday (a short while ago) and if so, did you catch the part where he says he is going to jog with his daughter and the dog? Maybe you should tell him what he really means? You really aught to separate what officials are really saying from what you want to hear because spreading fake facts is pretty bad too.

    5. Susan says:

      Loved these encounters. Connects us to other
      New Yorkers in a beautiful way.