Friday, April 13, 2012

A Spring Woods

Somehow, waking up to 43 degrees in the middle of April is not as exciting as waking up to 43 degrees in the middle of February.

I’m just saying…

We were all so smug, just a few weeks ago, breaking out our shorts and t-shirts, immersing ourselves in the warmth of 75 degrees.

Have you noticed that ever since then we’ve been teetering in the weather netherworld, somewhere between 55 degrees and maybe 65, on a good day?

I suppose that’s really the norm for this time of year, but that normal 65 is tempered by the 40 mile an hour wind tunnel gale constantly blowing down from Canada so it feels like, oh, I don’t know…25.

It’s almost as if the see saw of nature tilted inordinately south one day and then righted itself, directly past normal, then up and over to the opposite side of pleasant.

I guess that’s the balancing act of spring.

I guess….

Spring renewal, which, contrary to what I said last week, does also mean renewing my state park permit…in addition to all the other things I said about spring…last week.

And renewing my state park permit means that Z and I were able to head on up to the Rockefeller state park preserve that still features us on its home webpage; professional walkers that we are.

You’d think they would comp us a new permit for all the hard walking work we did for them to capture that shot so perfectly. Not to mention all the new patrons we attract every year through our excellent ambling pose.

Notice how exquisitely balanced Z’s left foot is poised before striking the paving stones on the down stroke.

And look how casual my right arm dangles by my side. Do you think that comes without a lot of practice?

Anyway, that’s where we went on Monday to commune with nature and recover from our Easter extravaganza.

However, now I’ve spent the rest of the week recovering from our recovering that entailed hiking up and down about 8 miles of carriage roads that snake in and around streams and hollers and up and over hill and dale….which usually annoys Dale, who generally hollers as we step over her.

Z is a BIG nature person. By extension, and as a result of hanging out with her for the past 40 years, I am too…although it was not always that way for me.

Growing up, my family’s idea of nature was watching the Wonderful World of Disney on a Sunday night and running away from lightning bugs because we felt they threatened 2 or 3 of the natural laws.

But Z taught me differently.  In fact, one of the first outings we ever went on together was a trip into the woods.  Sure, once we made our way into the heavy underbrush Z suddenly remembered she had an emergency to attend to back home and left me stranded out there for what might have been several days, but it was definitely a healthy learning experience for me, despite the dehydration and malaria induced seizures. 

Eventually, I was able to find my way out to the highway and hitched a ride back to Z’s house to fetch my car, which she had taken off in.

As you would expect, Z was excited to see me, and once  I told her my name again, she expressed her admiration for my new found survival skills by saying, “Oh…so you were able to find your way out, huh?”

And from then on Z and I were inseparable—if you don’t count the 90’s—mostly because I never let her carry the car keys anymore.

It was pretty windy this past Monday, so we debated the wisdom of walking through the woods with the risk of having a tree or tree limb falling down on us. 

I took a philosophical approach to the whole thing and decided that if that was our fate, it was our fate, but to trust that it was not.

Even so, Z kept a watchful eye to the sky as we trekked, carefully monitoring our waving, swaying, bending surroundings.

When it comes to the woods, Z takes a Hawkeye approach anyway, no matter what the conditions.  She’s always on the lookout for wildflowers and wildlife of any kind; always spotting deer nestled in ravines 50 yards away, chipmunks darting across the trail, heron gliding down a stream, and even hawks themselves, which she tells me are there to remind us to always look at the big picture that's presenting itself to us.

I on the other hand always have my eyes glued to the path before me, mostly so I can see the small picture of my foot catching on the tree root that I am bound to trip over at some point. I’m also wondering if the toilet stopped running before we left.

As luck would have it we did spot all that I’ve mentioned and when we made it up to the highest point in the park, took in a pretty view of the Palisades across the Hudson, despite the 75 mile biting wind that greeted us from off the river.

After an appropriate period of scenery appreciation, we made our way back down the small mountain and out of the wind.  We found a couple of comfortable coping stones to cop a squat on and ate our leftover Easter lamb sandwiches by the side of a rushing stream, in the company of a baby deer and its momma, both of whom, luckily, did not have a taste for leftover Easter lamb sandwiches, which I’m on the fence about myself.

It really was as bucolic a setting as it sounds.

Z stared into the stream as she ate and made the astute observation that in the time it took her to take a single bite of her sandwich, the seemingly constant pool below had transformed itself a thousand times.

I on the other hand stared into my sandwich and wondered if mayo would have added anything to it, and was again reminded by the sound of the rushing stream below that I had indeed, probably, left the toilet running.

But that’s okay…I still had the car keys.

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