August 08, 2009

A Long Walk By the River

Thank God I'm not working fulltime right now and my freelance workload has lightened considerably, because I have been on a veritable treasure hunt in New York City, seeking all that nature has to offer wherever I can look past the concrete and glass to find it.

Oh, it's there, but New York City makes you look for it. Work for it.

Who knew how woodsy the Bronx is?!

Today I took Metro-North past the Bronx, following the Bronx River into Westchester County. It'll be a while before I can really see anything along the river actually in the Bronx, so I bypassed it and headed north instead. This week's weather has been glorious - surprisingly cool - and with thunderstorms predicted for tonight and tomorrow, I had to make the best of the day while I could.

Westchester County's Bronx River Pathway has been recently outfitted with an audio tour narrated by Dan Rather. You can either download it off their website or call a local 914 number to access the commentary along the pathway. Dan Rather's voice is soothing and muffled over the phone, like listening to my father on one of the audio tapes we recorded in his den as kids. I was happy to call him every now and then and listen to propaganda about what a great place Westchester is and how I should donate to the Friends of Westchester County, with a bit of natural and historical tidbits thrown in. No, Dan, I didn't see a cormorant along the banks of the lake, but I did see a huge egret fly by with his neck tucked in.

new bridge

Starting in Scarsdale right by the train station (lucky for me considering my history of never finding trailheads), I meandered about four and a half miles down to Bronxville, mostly along the Bronx River but occasionally crossing streets and highways, passing train stations and following bridges deeper into ancient woods. The towns along the way are residential, the kind of places where affluent benefactors get recognized on park bench nameplates. Some mommies were out for a stroll, and some bikers disregarded the signs telling them to dismount and walk across the bridges (or under the one bridge that was so low it practically scraped the top of my head). I don't think anybody was in it for the long haul like I was.

low bridge

My phone rang. When I answered it, Joe said, "You sound winded. Are you at the gym?"

"No I'm walking from Scarsdale to Bronxville."


"Because it's a nice day and there's a path here along the river and it's pretty nice and I need the exercise." I couldn't think of a better reason than that, although perhaps I could have answered, "Because I need to find a way to love where I live."

Joe seemed satisfied with the answer I gave him. "Oh, okay."

After we made plans for later tonight (struggling over what to do on a Saturday night in NYC that doesn't involve sitting in a bar), I hung up and went back to the companionship of plenty of ducks, geese, and a couple of sleeping swans.

I purposely chose this path because it was easy to get to (36 mins from Grand Central), and gave me a couple exit strategies along the way in case I tired of it before I reached Bronxville, the southern terminus of Section 2 of the pathway. It's not the most interesting pathway - lacking in ruins (save for some old bridge foundations) and wildlife beyond chipmunks - but it is well-marked and well-paved. After my adventures in Pelham Bay Park and Van Cortlandt Park this past week, I didn't feel like getting scared or getting lost today. Just a long walk.

And a few splashes of color to brighten my day, even when shaded by the woodsy canopy above.

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