Tuesday, June 30, 2009


new york city sighting

The other day I was strolling leisurely down Fifth Avenue after seeing the Francis Bacon show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I came upon the vivid sight of the carriage horses lined up on 59th Street (Central Park South) eating their oats. Each oat-pail had ten or twenty pigeons clustered around it. I directed my attention to one of the pails and saw that the horse would bury its head in it and munch for a while, but then would slowly raise its head until it reached its straight-ahead position, which it would maintain for a fairly long time, teeth still deliberatively chewing. Soon after the horse's head would begin rising, the pigeons would quickly fly in, sans objection from gracious horse. The horse would start to lower its head again; the pigeons of course quickly vacated the pail.

I watched this pattern three or four times, then walked forward to set my eyes upon another oat-pail, to see if the situation would be different. Well, yes. This horse would hardly ever raise its head from the pail; when it did it was for a very brief moment, just in order to spit out some of what was in its mouth--and this periodic ejection was what the pigeons gathered around that pail had to look forward to: the flock would race over to swallow up the grains of food newly scattered upon the ground. So this too seemed a rather cheerful sight, especially since when the horse would spit I could somehow see only food-grains flying, and not any saliva.

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