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 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.
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!
June 16, 2018
It’s been close to two hours. Our shirts are drenched in sweat, and eyelids heavy with exhaustion. The queue extends to as far as the eyes can see. And beyond that, we catch a glimpse of a white boat full of people clothed in blue ponchos. We want to be on that boat. We want to be the people in blue plastic ponchos. So we wait. And use up all the resilience, patience and the last ounce of energy. Around us, families break the line, and walk out. We refuse to be demotivated. And after what feels like eternity, the queue leads us to two elevators. We descend, our eyes now wide open with a gush of excitement. We become the people in blue plastic ponchos, and walk up to the boat that’s called the Maid of the Mist. Slowly, now un-anchored, it sails. Like it has, faithfully, since 1846. It passes the American Falls, where sheets of water crack on top of a cluster of giant rocks, get reduced to a spray of cool mist and land on our hair and face. Just a little ahead, a little intimidated by the wide and overpowering American Falls is the Bridal Veil falls. Alongside which, rows of people in yellow ponchos, submit to it, and get willingly drenched. The boat then makes a turn, along a curve marked by tall curtains of water. The Horseshoe, as it’s called, unveils itself in quite a dramatic way. A cloud of smoke rises at its feet, and beams of light run along its body. As we distance from it, it’s overbearing appearance reduces into a postcard-perfect beauty that we capture, preserve, and re-live.
It’s summertime wanderlust. We have been travelling every weekend ever since the sun got brighter and days got longer. This also explains the brief dry spells before every new post. We just got back from Poconos last evening after spending a couple of days pampering ourselves in a house nestled in the deep lush woods of the scenic town. In the mornings, we let our bodies float in the hot bath tub for hours, and in the evenings, we sat by the fireplace having good old campfire s’mores. Sometime during the day we walked by the different shades of green outside, and caught sight of adorable bunnies, squirrels and deer. Ludovico Einaudi’s tune complimented the sound of the crackling of wood, as we warmed our feet, and drained our wine glasses, by the fire. In the patio, under the warm sunshine, we delved into the question of existence, the purpose of life, and dreams. The conversation was washed down with swigs of cold grapefruit shandy. A little over a two-hour drive back home later, we unpacked, and continued to savor the beauty of Poconos that lingered in our head. It still does.
Our previous attempt to go to the beach, and share a romantic picnic watching the waves rise and fall, was unfortunately, a flop show. Now, braving our chances for a second time, we packed our bags, complete with a beach mat, some drinks, lots of chips, sunscreen, and fruit bites. We stepped outside in shorts and shades. It was a warm 22 degree Celsius.
“The weather is perfect, isn’t the weather just perfect?” I quipped, with an excitement that warrants the spotting of a UFO. We drove for less than a mile, when the color of the sky changed into a darker shade, like somebody had accidentally poured grey instead of blue on the large canvas of sky that’s in works. Clouds, ominous-sinister-dememtor-ish clouds, I said under my breath, and a field of goosebumps rose on my exposed legs.
But we kept our fingers crossed, a cross that would hopefully send the demon of the cloud packing. We picked up our friends from their house, and drove on. The first halt was for a slice of Pizza and a glass of Peroni Vito, and the second was at the vast blue of Dewey Beach, after two hours.
Here, we spread out the mat, and emptied our bags. Felt the sand on our toes, and the wind in our hair. I starred hard at the pale blue of the sky, the ocean, and the flimsy thread of a horizon that separated the two, with a focus that drew water from my eyes. So I let my gaze wander around carelessly, soaking in a typical beach scene.
To my right was a grown man helping a three-year-old jump on a puddle of water, a little away was a family huddled under the shade of a nice grey tent (jealous!), and to my left sat two women in light folding chairs, immersed in deep conversation.
And just when I decided to give in to the rhythmic sound of waves, and feel one with the earth, I was distracted by the white flowy dress of a bride who was getting a photo shoot done with the ocean in the backdrop, and a lifeguard who was was stepping down from his tall chair for some rest.
It was time to hit the waters. “It is very very cold,” said my friend, squinting her eyes, like after tasting a sour slice of lemon. But by principle, when at a beach, I HAD to walk by the shoreline. So I went knee deep into the waters, and let the cold Atlantic steal every ounce of warmth from my legs leaving them lifeless, like two hickory logs. I pinched them often to ensure circulation, even as I watched three dolphins bob up and down the waves, and sea gulls soar above with nonchalance.
All of us gathered back to the mat, took few sips of lemonade and coke, and prattled on about nothing in particular, until a fat cool drop of rain landed on my hand. And then on others’. But instead of wrapping up, we took out the Frisbee, and sweat it out with an intense game of catch and throw. By then, the drops had grown more frequent, and had left the camera bags a little damp. If that was not a clear indication to scoot, nothing was. So we, sore losers to the ways of Nature again, packed our bags, and left the beach much before we had planned to.
But our day was not done yet… (to be continued)
From the window of our car we see kids kicking neon pink balls on green grass. Their parents unwrap snacks packed in aluminium-foils. Next to them, a woman sits by herself on a bench, a book lays open on her lap while her eyes scan the endless sky. It is a warm day. The breeze hits our back, in short quick waves.
We park our car at the entrance of Fox Point State Park, and walk on a well-laid road that opens into the blue of the Delaware River.
The river freezes time. A stark contrast to the constant buzz of the I-495 traffic that it runs parallel to.
Standing by the railing, all you see is a massive blue jelly that shivers ever so often, as if tickled by the invisible hands of the wind.
You forget the rat race, and instead, find yourself, bending down on your knee, and taking a close look at the folds of a flower.
And zooming in on the burst of yellow amid a crowd of purple.
As you walk along the four-mile stretch, you see what seem like a bunch of straw-hair heads, bent in prayer.
A home where sparrows return to at the start of dusk.
And creepers that adorn the railings.
It’s hard to believe that this was once a ‘hazardous waste dumping site’. Pennsylvania Railroad wanted to use it for industrial purposes.
But thanks to a man called Marsten Fox, and his vision to convert this stretch as a ‘window to the Delaware river’, now it is quite a summer vacay spot, to picnic, take a leisurely walk by the river…
… and watch ships sail by, while munching on a pack of pretzels.
Agios Nikolas is the name of the cargo vessel that we spot. It has come a long way from Greece, and will now rest in the port of Philadelphia for a while.
The vessel looks like a giant centipede, and floats away with a grace that has us wondering: now, maybe the curtains will fall?
After sitting curled up in the couch, and watching ‘Arrested’ Development for hours, my husband and I decided to unprison ourselves, and take a walk in the snowstorm. By the end of our little adventure, our fingers felt like plastic, and lips cracked like the Sahara drought. BUT we now knew what it felt like to have a thousand little snowflakes land on our skin and melt with a hot flush of shyness; or to lie on a bed of snow and watch the sky shred into white pieces; or to finally answer: ‘How white is snow white?’
Of course, before we started, we did have second thoughts at first sight.
Stopped and thought for a second, ‘Maybe this is not a good idea’.
The wind was pretty bad.
The plants had all turned into ice sculptures.
And the cars had fallen asleep.
But we resolved to dive into the mysterious sea of white.
One step at a time.
Left a trail of foot-sized dents all the way.
Once in the island of snow, we made a nice little snow ball.
Aah, the sharp finger-numbing cold.
But watching the ball disintegrate into tiny bits, like a snow firework, was worth it.
So, we made another ball. And did some snowball juggling.
That’s when we stumbled upon this guy, alone in the cold.
So we made some new friendships.
And some memories.
It was time to pack up. But before we left, we had to find out:
Every time one lays down in the snow…
Does an angel get to know?
This post is a little late, but the weightless flurries outside my window and a grey-ish tint that they bring with them, remind me about my first getaway after moving to the States last November. It was the long weekend of thanksgiving.
My husband and I packed for three days, and left town to visit the quaint beauty that is Watkins Glen.
After a long drive — through a kaleidoscope of trees, mountains and an endless sky — we reached a small village called Hector in Watkins Glen, Upstate New York. Past a vast Seneca lake and a small hesitant Montour waterfalls, we entered a narrow gravelly road, covered with a web of trees to discover what would be our home for the next two days.
It looked like a fancy little doll house on Airbnb website. Unfortunately, the size did matter in real. Will our luggage fit in? we wondered.
We parked our car on a bed of stones and slush. Right opposite was the main house. Just as we were ogling at the luxury of space…
Jeremy and his wife Ellen, our hosts, rushed out of it to meet us.
Ellen, with a nest of frizzy white hair and a permanent smile, hugged her sweater tight around her, and looked at us with genuine interest. She had the same expression that we probably might have had if we were in her place. ‘How did you guys end up here of all the places?’
Her husband broke the awkward silence by pointing at the woods beyond, “that are not to be ventured into”. “It’s the hunting season,” he warned us.
Maybe it’s the clouds, but just then a sense of darkness fell around us. And just like that, the doll house seemed Annabelle-istic.
We looked around, and strangely, we realized that it was unfairly easy to get spooked by the most ordinary of things. Like a set of harmless discarded discolored shells.
A swing that sways on its own.
A chipped chalice.
Chairs concocting a secret plan.
Sharp rusty iron bars.
Or a starless moonless sky.
Hotel California now played in our heads. That’s when we noticed that our coop had a name too: Warshaw Pavilion. The paint on the letters smudged all over like when someone rubs there eyes after applying kohl.
The creaking of the woods gave us the cue. We got in and shut the little door for the night, like two frightened chicken.
And shut the little windows too.
Once inside, surprisingly, the little space offered a lot to explore. Like this whole shelf of board games, books, DVDs and video cassettes!
And interesting artworks that lined the walls.
We stumbled upon an old and tattered book, which had sketches done by kids. Maybe by Ellen and Jeremy’s kids? Maybe by young Ellen and Jeremy themselves?
And then retired for the night with a Meryl Streep movie. The Bridges of Madison County.
Next morning, the thin blue-frilled curtains did little to keep the sharp light at bay.
We made coffee in the Hobbit’s kitchen.
And sipped on it sitting in our Hobbit patio.
Minutes went past, and except for the slow and soothing rustle of leaves, the ambiance had little to scare us. Our bijou Pavilion was not that spooky after all.
Wait, do you see a face in the window?
Somewhere in between two snow storms this month on the East Coast, was a sunny pleasant day. And fortunately it was a Sunday. So my husband and I decided to head to Kilgore Falls or The Falling branch Area of Rocks State Park in Harford County, Maryland. True to the name, the water, falling a graceful fall from a height of 17ft, carries with it small branches and lays it down in a cool pool that’s ornate with giant rocks.
This beauty is hidden on the far end of a path that’s laden with embossed roots like the veins on an old man’s hand.
And big fallen trees that try to spook you out.
Some look like the head of a snake.
And some like the fossil of a starfish.
Then there are some that look like a man in slumber.
And some others that are bleeding red.
They try to make our paths narrower.
Block certain exits.
Feign like they might fall on us.
But we look them in the face.
And say that no matter what, we are going to keep marching.
Maybe, we shall take rest for a bit.
And take a selfie or two.
But march, we shall…
Until we find the sweet stream.
Cool, clear waters.
With it, a flush of green.
And a dash of rainbow.
Up the steep steps, we shall go.
To see the origin of the beauty that’s the fall.
And we did.
A wonderful short getaway, Kilgore Falls is the second highest waterfall in Maryland (the highest is Cunningham Falls); this place was a private property until 1993, after which the Department of Natural Resources bought it and made it the Rocks State Park. The name Kilgore comes from the name of one of its previous owners, (not entirely sure) as mentioned in The Zone Magazine. Now, if you are some place far, and cannot plan a trip anytime soon, a sweet alternative is to watch the Disney movie Tuck Everlasting which has been shot here, or enjoy this set of breathtaking wedding photography at the venue.
Until our next travel.