A Walk Beside the River

Early in this month of October, Robin of Breezes at Dawn proposed that we take a walk and share with the Blogosphere via her blog. My recent trip back to the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York involved a number of walks, but I decided to share this walk along the Hudson river for Robin’s Walktober.

It was a cloudy, cool day, but our bodies and our minds wanted some outside air and a little exercise, so we took off to a couple of parks on the Hudson River. There were sailboats moored offshore, waiting for a sunny day to take their owners out for a sail.
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There were shorebirds swimming, one of which appears to have gotten a leg-up – either he is very tall or he’s found a rock on which to perch.
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A barge plied the river waters, heading out to sea perhaps.
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We passed trees, one with interesting bark
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some with brilliant fall colors – wearing their technicolor coats, I believe
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Then a boardwalk to follow to a path that led us a different direction,
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past a tiny cove filled with green -duckweed, perhaps?
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And another tree that seems to have had a little bit of a problem with stability.
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We walked along further, but soon the chill in the air convinced us it was time to return to the car and the warmth of home. This walk on this day was enough.

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Bits and Pieces

Tomorrow the trek home begins – one day spent on 4 planes on a roundabout trip home, from Newburgh, NY to Charlotte, NC to Phoenix, AZ to Portland, OR – don’t ask me, the airlines decided this! Then the next day on Amtrak for an arrival home at dark time. Rain is in the forecast, and I’m hoping it will be gentle and not rain on me during those periods of time when I must be outside. But now, a few highlights from the past several days.

The first, a day spent with family that I have not seen for many, many years. They are family from a previous marriage and I fear I allowed the ending of that marriage to end contact with this part of the family. So here they are – my niece’s daughter (my great niece,would that be?), her mother (my niece), me and my former sister-in-law who, by the way, has changed not at all except her hair is not quite as dark as it was.

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It was a really nice day and I am so happy I had the opportunity to spend some time with them. It is now up to them to come visit me.

From a day The Author and I went to visit her son and his family, a quick stop we made at Boscobel, a historic mansion, for a couple of quick photos in the rain – the fountain in the pond on the grounds and the mansion, framed by a walkway of big old trees.

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A horse standing in the meadow of the Stonecrop Gardens where we visited one morning
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and a flower from that garden with one of the many bees that were very busy gathering the last of the nectar available before winter sets in.

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After the gardens and a stop for lunch we ventured towards a winery, passing this red barn just beyond the stone fence – one of many in this neck of the woods.

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While at the winery, we made the supreme sacrifice of participating in the tasting, followed by the supreme sacrifice of buying some wine to take home with us.

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There was artwork on the side of the library in Beacon

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the colors of fall

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and a wonderful sunset.

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There will be more of this adventure to follow, gradually, as the urge strikes me once I am home.

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Visiting Some Old Stomping Grounds

Last Friday I believe it was, we visited the little towns and the area that had once been our stomping grounds, those many years ago. There are parts of that trip that I am saving because those parts have more tales to tell and I want to see what old pictures I can find at home to use for contrast – the old and the new. Or more recent. But this part of the tale I can share.

We drove across the river on the Mid-Hudson Bridge, aka Franklin Delano Roosevelt Bridge (I believe)

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Then pulled into a small area to enter a small park with a view of the bridge we had just crossed

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the town across the river

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and a sign that told about the walkway, formerly a railroad bridge that had been converted to a bridge on which one could walk across the Hudson River if one so desired. I desired, sort of, but we had places to be and things to see.

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Zooming in, we see the walkway

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which has an elevator to carry you up to the top.

Heading on up the road

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we come to a covered bridge – the second oldest in the state of New York I am told

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and since I am a sucker for covered bridges and lighthouses, we stop so that I can take a picture. Or two.

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On the road once again, we are growing closer to our destination

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and suddenly, we are entering the town of Rosendale, where once upon a time long long ago I lived for a short period of time. The parts of the story that I am not yet sharing took place after we moved from Rosendale to Bloomington; today we see Rosendale

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which has changed a good deal but yet is much the same.

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The change has come, The Author says, because of the nearby Metro train line that rapidly and efficiently transports those who wish, or must, go to New York City. We suspect the area has become a respite for city-dwellers, a place to go on weekends to enjoy blue skies, fresh air, and more open spaces.

We are hungry now, so we stop for lunch at a small cafe that was not there in those days that we were there, which has a patio facing the street – but across the street is a forested area, and the street is not so busy as to be a deterrent

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We sit at one of these little red tables, but the wooden picnic table that shares space on the patio has decorative additions that catch my camera’s eye.

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We meet Leo who is out with his man, who is out for lunch. Leo’s man says Leo is a Silver Lab; I have never before met a Silver Lab and had taken Leo to be a Weimaraner. It is my suspicion that Leo’s history includes a Weimaraner.

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Lunch is done (it was very good – I did not take a picture) and we wander off to meander along some of the little roads to see what we can see that we might recognize

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until, late in the day, we arrive back home, satisfied with our day but tired.

In this day, as in many, there was enough.

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Shall we Walk a Bit?

My first day here, we explored the nearby area a bit, but I did not take a lot of pictures as we drove about. Later in the day, however, we walked down to get the mail and my camera went with me, because that’s what cameras are for. My dear friend (who shall be hereinafter known as The Author) has a cat, Van Gogh (named so for obvious reasons), who said hello as we left the house, but opted not to join us on our walk.

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Outside her front porch, just at the base of the steps, are pots of color – Coleus, Mums, Caladium, Sweet Potato Vine – bright spots.

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It’s a pleasant afternoon, mostly cloudy but not raining. It is New York State, it feels like New York State. A little bit of humidity, but with the moderate temperatures not suffocatingly humid. I love the greenery, the masses of foliage, but I do not love the humidity that encourages that greenery.

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I am happy to be here, to have time with The Author, to revisit old times and make new memories. Last time we spent time together, our husbands were with us and I think they rather dominated. The two of them together meant trouble for anyone around – the devil seemed to sit on their shoulders. It is comfortable, this friendship, with no expectations or demands. We communicate frequently via email when not together and so it was not difficult to pick up the pieces.

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She has, I think, boundless energy. Boundless interests. She motivates me to get moving – usually. Not this morning. This morning is rainy and I am being lazy, sitting still in my nightgown and robe although it is nearly lunch time.

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Mother Nature’s paintbrush has only lightly touched the trees, shrubs and vines here. It is early in the season yet, but what color there is is stunning, eye-catching, put there specifically for me to capture with my camera, I am sure.

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Let me show you more of what we saw as we walked.
The seed husks of the Hibiscus

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Maple leaves showing their fall finery

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a vine flaunting its fiery fall garb

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The sumac just barely kissed with color.

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Back at the house, I love the grasses she has growing in front of the porch, types of grasses that refuse to grow for me in our less cooperative climate.

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And so went our first day. Yesterday we took a drive down memory lane, but I am as yet undecided as to whether I will share much of that or wait until I get home where I might find old pictures from when those lanes were only growing memories to compare.
These days are filled with enough; perhaps even more than enough. I wish for you those kinds of days.

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Trains and Clouds and Planes That Leave Late

Tuesday was a day that started earlier than I like, in part because Monday ended a little later than it should have. All my fault, it’s that darn second wind that hits me just before the time I should go to bed. But Tuesday the alarm rang at 5:30 a.m., as I had asked it to. Then Amtrak texted me – train is late. Alarm rang again at 6:00 a.m., as I had asked it to. Train is late, but may be gaining time. My kind neighbor drove me to town so I was at the station before the train – because it’s best if it’s done that way when you want to actually get on the train and go somewhere. It came in and we left – about an hour late. Work on the tracks, they said.

We headed north, past the lake, making our first stop, heading north, north, north, up into the mountains.

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A view from the train. I read, I snoozed, I people-watched, I made cooing noises over a baby only a few weeks old, I snoozed. I ate a not-very-good-but-way-too-expensive sandwich for lunch. I snoozed. And, at last, we arrived in Portland to sunshine and blue skies although it had obviously rained earlier.

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I made my way to my motel, my home for the night, finding the appropriate MAX train connections in the appropriate places going only in semi-circles to get there as opposed to full circles, which I often do. I settled in, I put my feet up and sat with a glass of ice water for a bit – because I had only been sitting all day, you know. Then I wandered a couple of blocks to a restaurant where I had halibut with rice and summer squash and a green salad, which I ate as I read my ebook. It seemed a good evening to just go for it, so I completed my meal with blackberry cobbler and ice cream. Then back to the room to watch a bit of TV and get to sleep fairly early since the next morning was going to start early again.

The plane departed a bit later than scheduled and was routed south over Nashville instead of straight across over Chicago because of the recent problem in Chicago. which required a last-minute topping off of the gas tank (I wonder about that – it seems they should have figured that out sooner) and added an additional half hour to the flight time. Uh oh. I only had about 50 minutes time between our scheduled arrival in Philadelphia and departure time for the last leg of the trip. Clouds on my horizon.

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And the clouds built. Yes, we landed late. Ten minutes before my connection was to leave, but luck was on my shoulder. There were two of us on the plane that had the same connection, and the connection plane was a very small plane which only had to fly to my destination and back to Philadelphia, so they held it. They waited for us! We sprinted to the shuttle bus that would carry us to our departing terminal, we sprinted to our gate, they changed our gate so we sprinted back to the new gate. We boarded our plane, which lifted off about 35 minutes late, just in time for the sunset.

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I arrived at my destination and my friend and her daughter were waiting for me. We gathered my luggage and headed home where we visited for awhile, had a glass of wine and ultimately headed to bed where I slept soundly.

Today was largely a day of rest, but we did a little touring. More about that and tomorrow another time as already this has gone on long enough.

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Not the Usual Suspects

As summer fades and fall moves in, the visitors to the tree outside my window are not the usual suspects. Not the usual summer suspects, that is. My visitors these days are the migrating visitors – the ones we see in the spring and in the fall, but rarely during the summer. There is the White-Crowned Sparrow, a handsome little guy.
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And another sparrow – I think. I have not identified this one, although if I were to look in my bird app, I probably could find out who he is.
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I looked in my app – research inconclusive. Possibly – very slight possibility – it’s an American Pipit. Or a juvenile White-Crowned Sparrow. I’m leaning to the sparrow. In any case, I liked how he stood tall and proud, feathers unruffled.

My feathers are slightly ruffled – but in a good way. In just two days I shall leave the warmth and comfort of my home and head east. All the way across the country east. To the Northeast. To the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State. I am excited because I am going to visit a very good friend who has been my friend for approaching 50 years. I have not seen her since 2006, and much has changed in our lives since then. My head is spinning, planning and plotting and wondering if I have remembered everything I must remember. I have paper confirmations of my travel plans as well as digital confirmations. I cannot quite seem to get away from that paper thing.

There is this little guy – another unidentified – who is busy preening and smoothing feathers. I have been busy with the human version of preening and smoothing, deciding what clothing to take, packing. Adjusting what I have packed. Planning what comfortable knit clothes I shall wear to travel – nothing restrictive, the important thing here is clothing that gives, that will move with my body, that will not squeeze in any area during the hours spent in a not-big-enough airplane seat.
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The clothing dilemma is mainly me trying to outwit Mother Nature. Yeah, good chance of that, right? Do I take the warmth of fleece – ah, but fleece is so bulky, I say. Probably not necessary just yet this time of year. The temperatures will be much as they are here at home. I think it will be layers, camisoles with long-sleeved but lightweight shirts. And a vest or two. Neutral colors, of course.

While I am in the east in the valley of the Hudson, I shall take a day to visit family – a former sister-in-law, a niece and the children and grandchild of that niece. Those I have not seen for so many years – perhaps 40 years or thereabouts? This is one of the good parts of Facebook, where my niece found me. I was thrilled when she found me, I am thrilled that I will get to see them again – no longer the little girl with her mother that I remember, but as an adult – a mom, a grandmother – her mother as a grandmother and great-grandmother. This trip has so much promise, and I am so happy to be making it.

Preening done for the moment, a better view of this little fellow.
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I think this one is a House Wren. Waite’s Birds says that’s what it could be. I’m going with that.
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My thoughts are bouncing back and forth, up and down, all around. Can you tell? My words are not really related to the photos, but that’s okay, really it is. I think nothing more can be expected from me now. I think until I am aboard the train that will take me to the big city miles north, where I will spend the night and board the plane the following morning, I think my thoughts will lack cohesion. I will check my suitcase, again. And again. I will check my lists – the ones that tell me things I should not forget to put in my suitcase, or my carry-on, or what I must remember to do yesterday, today and tomorrow – those lists. I will check them frequently. I will cross things off, I will add things. I will rethink my choices. Because you know what I realized yesterday? This will be the first trip I have made entirely on my own, with no one beside me, for about 20 years. That’s a very long time.

So I sit and stare out my window at those visitors who are not the usual suspects, but are welcome still. And always when there is a rule, there is an exception, so while most of my visitors are not the usual suspects, there is one who is a constant, who is not a visitor because he is here all year long. Squawking, complaining, rarely – if ever – singing songs of joy or beauty. But still, he has his own beauty, more readily enjoyed when he keeps his beak closed and silent. He is the Stellar Jay.
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Now I must leave you for this moment. I must go check that suitcase, those lists. I must see what I must do today so that I will be ready to leave Tuesday morning. Early. To catch the train that will take me to the big city to the north. Where I will catch the plane that will take me to my friends in the east, those who are not the usual suspects that I visit. Another example of enough, you see?

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I’ve Looked at Leaves

I’ve looked at leaves from both sides now
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From up
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and down
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and still somehow, I don’t know leaves at all.

Facades – we all have them, don’t we? We have the faces we show to the world, the brave faces, the smiling faces, the faces that say “it’s all okay, it’s all just fine”. But are these always our real faces, or are they illusions? Do we really know each other at all?

The song sung so beautifully by Joni Mitchell back – when? 80s? used clouds as its symbol, but I believe it was really about knowing one another. About the illusions we sometimes present to the world. About how sometimes we think we know someone, and then we find we don’t. Not really. And that’s okay. Sometimes illusions are good. Sometimes we don’t want to share everything there is about ourselves with the world. Sometimes we share only with very close friends, and maybe some things are never shared at all.

But sometimes we hide things that we should not. Recent news items, primarily concerning football players, have made me think about the horrid things people do to one another. Have made me wonder what makes someone think it’s okay to knock out someone we say we love, to drag them down a hall. But it also makes me wonder what makes the person who has been so badly treated accept that treatment and subsequently marry the person who abused (and probably continues to abuse) her. Why?

And then there’s the football player who abused his child – whipping that child with a stick, it is reported – leaving abrasions and major bruises. The case that created a maelstrom of discussion about spanking and its validity. But wait! I say – this was not “spanking”. This was beating. This was child abuse. There is a difference, in my mind. Sometimes a swat with an open hand gets the attention of the child, makes them really think about what they have done that caused this action from their parent. But whipping? Using a stick? No! Not spanking! That’s abuse.

And we keep quiet about being treated this way. We keep silent. Maintaining our facade, our illusion. So that no one really knows us at all. These actions are not tolerable, and should not be tolerated. They are dangerous. They are life-threatening. I have never been in this situation, and I do not understand why the victims keep silent – not really understand. I get that for many women it is financial security. It could be a fear of being able to support themselves and their children without the income of the abuser. It could be a misplaced passion or love for the abuser. It could be the abused has been brainwashed by the abuser, or even those who raised her as a child, to believe it is her fault. To believe if she changes, the situation will change. That she can make it all okay. I’ve been there – not with physical abuse, but with a man who was hell-bent on destroying anything good in his life, any relationship that might make him feel he was unworthy of having. It took me a very long time to learn that I could not change myself to make it okay. I could not make it okay. But I could leave, and I did. Finally. And I survived.

The answer? I have no idea! I do not know how you get to people in this situation. I do not know how you break a learned manner of dealing with frustration or anger that results in violence. I think our world has a problem – not just this country, but many countries. We resort to violence, we declare war, we shout, we strike. We do not communicate. We do not listen. We do not hear the cries for help, the pleas for understanding.

We look at leaves and clouds and people from both sides, from up and down, but it’s the illusions we see. We do not really know many people at all. It is a sad situation.

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