park shade

Evening's descent into Prospect Park feels like the slow tendrils of smoke swirling from the tip of a cigarette; the last light drifts across your vision in pieces until it has dissipated entirely into night. This transition is immortalized in shifting color palettes, as the features of the park melt into softer and darker tones, occasionally disrupted by the sharp relief of a street light or passing car.

The arrival of evening is unmistakeable around Prospect Park Pond, when the lamps paint yellow lines across the surface of the water. Evening arrives when blueish shadows creep from tree leaves to consume their surroundings. Evening arrives when the headlights of passing cars shine onto the alien whiteness of new spring blossoms. Through these changes, the lake is temporarily transformed into a place unrecognizable from its daytime appearance.

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Arian Aareeyan sits by the shore on a chilly February evening. He says he comes to this spot often to relax and watch the birds. 

Prospect Park Pond is the only lake in Brooklyn. It sits in the southern portion of the park, and is almost 60 acres large. Birders, fishers, couples, and walkers gather at the shore of the lake to admire its wildlife and scenic beauty. ​ It is surrounded by forest on all sides. One could walk just 50 feet from the shore and be in the trees. The coming of spring brings the first hints of greenery into these small hills. In just months, the lake will be completely surrounded by various shades of green. 

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Dense foliage surrounds the western shore of the pond. The shoreline is just past the road and a sidewalk.

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 A tree wrapped in poison oak near the the western shore of the pond. 

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Miguel sits for a portrait. He comes to pond to hang out and spend time with his friends.

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A magnolia tree in bloom near the entrance of the park.

When the sun has set, lamps lining the sidewalks, roads, and footpaths light the way. This fluorescence is cast on the trees and paints them in various shades of yellow, white, and orange. The lake, previously a palette of blues, is transformed by foliage around it.

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A single lamp on the western shore of Prospect Park pond provides an orb of light, silhoutteing the trees around it.

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Magnolia trees in bloom by a park entrance.

A section of the western shoreline.

Silhouetted trees in the last light of evening.

The evening brings people to the pond in search of something. They come alone to the shores and sit by the water. They listen to music. They talk on the phone. They read a book. They close their eyes and say nothing. They may admire the emerging colors of the evening. Children may feed the birds under the watchful eyes of a parent. Lovers may fold together in the large roots of a tree. Delivery workers may park their bikes on the shore and take a moment to rest. 

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Edward sits for a portrait. He and his friend Miguel come to the pond to hang out.

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Trees near the western shore of the pond. Many are wrapped in poison oak and other crawling vines.

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 A magnolia tree by the entrance of the park, lit by a nearby street lamp.

The colors of the evening are made more beautiful by their impermanence. You must be by the magnolia tree at the right moment to see the starkness of the blossoms against the fading blue sky and the buildings behind it. You must be in the trees when the shadows are just forming to see the ways they fall onto the soil and blanket the ground in small, geometric shapes. But perhaps the most compelling beauty of the evening in Prospect Park Pond is that these colors, immortalized in single moments around the lake, are continual. You can return tomorrow night, and see the magic once more.

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An evening runner along West Dr., the section of road in Prospect Park that hugs the western shore of the pond.