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The Company of Nature: Walking With Butterflies in Fort Tryon Park


If wandering the empty urban canyons feels a little lonely and depressing, a better idea would be to head to the nearest park. This past Saturday, a day that was sunny but not too hot, Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan turned out to be the perfect place to not only satisfy wanderlust but to rediscover the company of nature.
Butterflies were there. Hundreds of butterflies - Tiger Swallowtails, Monarch Butterflies, Black Swallowtails, Cabbage White Butterflies, and Silver Spotted Skippers, among them. Moths, too, although I have not yet learned their names. 
The Heather Garden is situated just beyond the entrance to Fort Tryon Park. With seasonal plantings, the garden is always a serene spot. 
Observing butterflies involves watching their interaction with blooming flowers and shrubs.
The Tiger Swallowtails are easy to find and found here in significant numbers. Just look for the Butterfly Bushes.
The Cabbage White Butterflies are here in abundance, too, though not as showy as the swallowtails. 
Of course, birds thrive in the Heather Garden as well. The nearby presence of a pair of Northern Cardinals alerted me to the secret nest of this little baby cardinal.
A few humans visited the park on Saturday, but for a typical Saturday, not too many. With so many people keeping to their own neighborhoods these days and no tourists to speak of, nature seemed more in balance than usual on this day.
The Heather Garden sits within proximity to the Hudson River, so a visit is enhanced by views of the larger surrounding landscape.
Billings Lawn is part of the terraced design of Fort Tryon Park. On this day, a group of young Shakespearean actors were running through the lines of King Lear
The plantings at the entrance to the park on Margaret Corbin Circle, including tall orange canna lilies, give the park a semi-tropical appearance in summertime.

In fact, the tropics would appear a few days later in the form of Tropical Storm Isaias. The storm hit the region with fierce winds and rain on Tuesday, August 4, toppling trees throughout the region and knocking out power in many places. The power outages were second only to Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Fort Tryon Park lost a few trees.
I went back to the park this morning, the day after the storm, to check on the butterflies. I don't know where butterflies go when a big storm hits. They are creatures who need bright sunshine for energy and flight. In this morning's sun, the butterflies had resumed their flitting ways. This Black Swallowtail basked in the sunshine.

During the isolating days of the pandemic, nature makes good company. Butterflies are particularly uplifting, as they represent transformation and hope. 


Images from August 2020 made with a Nikon CoolPix B700. 

The Heather Garden in Fort Tryon Park is an easy walk from the 190th St. station of the A train.









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