There was a nip in the air, giving away a subtle sign that Fall had begun. Brown dried leaves and yellow-green walnut fruit lay scattered on paved roads, along the trail that ran through Rockwood, Bringhurst Woods, and Bellevue Park. Occasionally, we hopscotched to avoid horse manure, and paused in front of William duPont’s elegant Bellevue Hall to click a picture or two. The five-mile walk, peppered with laughter and conversations, lasted for over two hours.
The first time I made an angel in the snow; that cold cold day when we bought our first car; the lazy evenings spent in hammock at our friends’ place in New Jersey; the freshness of a six-month-old wedding; and the exhaustion of moving into a new house… we have captured them all. These fleeting moments remain immortalized in 1.8 * 2.4 inch photos, lit now and then by soft yellow LED bulbs. They are souvenirs of moments drenched in love. Little reminders that life is good. Bursts of memories that keep us warm on cold sunless days.
The bluish green Brandywine creek followed us for a while, before hiding behind a cluster of brown branches and trunks. Then there was just us, the hard paved road, and the quiet of the woods. In that almost meditative silence, we heard the wind howl, and birds sing. As if lured by these sounds, we walked towards them, not minding the steep slope, the wet ground, or the slim paths that grew slimmer. The woods now seemed thicker and chaotic, like a brown crayon scribbling by a child. Our shoes brushed fresh yellow buttercups, while our eyes grazed the flawless blue sky. When we returned after an hour-and-a-half walk, the bluish green creek still stood calmly waiting for us.
We walked close to four miles, for two hours, at Carousel Park, Wilmington. Tall trees, still leafless, rose above us, guarding a trail that changed from paved roads, to graveled paths, and wet and muddy stretches, with every turn. On our way, we saw a tree with a mysterious dark cavernous opening; a little distance away was a giant trunk etched with names of those who had been there before us. As we inched closer to the Enchanted Lake, a brace of ducks shooed us away. So we made our way to Huckleberry Hill, where a pair of donkeys looked at us with a sense of disinterest. We also made a quick trip to the stable to meet our horse friends Lil Red, Diesel and Cutie. And just as we were about to leave, we stumbled upon an interesting arrangement of pebbles on the grass; it read ‘Joy’ — quite aptly summarizing what we felt at the end of the walk.
It was a pleasant day. The sun shone bright. The sky hung cloudless above us. But as we walked along the Brandywine Creek State Park, Delaware, the black tarred roads disappeared under a layer of cracked ice. With walking sticks, we found our balance, moved thorny shrubs, and poked on frozen mire that lay like lumps of dark chocolate. The creek followed us, often changing its appearance from a crease-less sheet of glass to a colony of ice blocks. Shoes muddy, foreheads sweaty and jackets unzipped, we wrapped up our little three-mile adventure and called it a (pleasant) day!
We gazed at the endless blue of the Pacific Ocean, only disturbed by the sturdy pillars of the Golden Gate Bridge; we marched along the steep roads of San Francisco, sometimes chasing the slow-moving cars along the famous ‘Crooked Lane’ at Lombard Street. We spent some mornings soaking in the brilliance of Paul Klee and Andy Warhol at SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), and evenings, watching a pod of seals share docks at Pier 39. We hopped on and off of ‘Caltrains’, and stopped to drink soup out of sourdough bread bowls and gobble spoons-full of Affogato. Some evenings we spent smoking orange mint hookah, and some others, getting spooked inside a 134-year-old haunted Winchester Mystery House. We bid goodbye to California, but missed our connecting flight to Philadelphia. Stuck at Phoenix for the night, we traveled along roads, marked with tall cacti on the sides, to a nearby hotel. Finally, we reached home at dusk the next day. Now, as we put our feet up, and leisurely sip tea at our patio, we miss the cool breeze of the Bay, and the bark of the seals. It’s been a good trip.
A sea of strangers, scurrying yellow taxis and the hovering sound of traffic. Majestic towers, bustling brunch spots and the green lull in Central Park. And then the flood of people gushing out of subways, the big posters of Broadway, and the red steps of Time Square.
That’s NYC when you are in it.
Separated by the wide blue strip of Hudson River, from the 29th floor of a building in Jersey City, the NYC that you see is calm, like a sedated beast, rocked to rest on the lap of Hudson.