Friday, October 24, 2014

Autumn Hike: Franny Reese State Park and Walkway Over the Hudson

Here's a blueprint for a brilliant hike in the autumn.

Take the Metro North from Grand Central Station in NYC. The view from the train window, the Hudson River:

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Get off at the train station in Poughkeepsie (last stop on the Hudson line):

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Walk south, paying attention to what some of the buildings are called. (Washington Irving is a major literary figure in these parts.)

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Cross the Mid-Hudson Bridge on foot (this isn't the famous pedestrian bridge in the area, but it has a footpath, so you can share the bridge with motor vehicle traffic).

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Look at different signs on the bridge.

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Then look north along the Hudson.

Because that other bridge you see? That's the Walkway Over the Hudson. It's the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world, and it's where you'll be ending your hike.

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Fall foliage is stunning.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week in Seven Words #230 & #231

230

amazon
Stolid and tall, drifting ahead of us like the mast on a ship.

dyed
Red and yellow kayaks, like slices of fruit candy, bobbing on the river.

fissures
They work hard to create the impression of a shared reality, even as their hearts splinter.

grousing
We have no solutions, only complaints. But it's reassuring to find people who complain about the same things. The shared noise is heartening.

haunting
The whine of pigeons flapping by my ears.

mutants
Fisherman by the railroad tracks, what will he find? Rubbery fish? Tires that have come alive with fins and scales?

refrigerated
Harried women in a chilly supermarket; they're carefully made-up, their eyes fogged.

231

attenuated
In a battle that spans multiple eras and realms, who will win: Plants or zombies?

embracing
The pond is still and lets the sky steal across it. It's a safe place for the sky to settle down a short while. No waves or ripples will chase away the clouds.

fidgety
Goal: To rush to the end of the piece and then dance away from the keyboard.

fretting
One trait I want to avoid as much as possible is fretfulness. I don't want to lie prostrate before my fear and call attention to myself with it.

inexorability
He had the vague hope that if he stopped doing anything, time itself would stop. Instead it's flowing around him and nudging him along, while he struggles to keep his footing.

regenerating
I like community gardens grown in old broken places. A part of the city once scarred now bears vegetables and redolent plants.

taste
Enough people say they like something, so then others like it too. And some dislike it just because too many others like it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Salem, Massachusetts in October: 25 Photos

(From a half-day visit on Columbus Day.)

The Witch House

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(It's the home of Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges involved in the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s.)

The Custom House

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(At the Salem Maritime National Historic Park.)

Ropes Mansion Garden

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(This garden is in back of a home dating to the early 1700s.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week in Seven Words #228 & 229

228

gazers
Three teenagers are sitting on a bench, arms around each other, looking for the moon in a daytime sky.

heightened
The silence on the path isn't true silence. The trees are bristling, and animals are scraping unseen against dirt. My feet are crunching on loose rock. The silence is the absence of human voice.

platitudinous
People who tell me to "be myself" often mean "be a self that I approve of and am comfortable with."

punctuating
When I read beneath the green branches, bugs fall onto my book like extra punctuation.

subterrestrial
In part because it's dwarfed by a flag pole, one gets the sense that the old stone building, crouched on the ground, has a small room in it with a door, and that this door opens to a flight of stairs that takes you miles below the city.

sweeping
Wedding photos in the park - the bride's train sweeping over fallen green leaves.

witchery
The shop, dark as a cavern, smells of soap and herbs.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Angry protective swan


In this case, a father swan swatting and hissing at the rescue worker who's trying to extract a cygnet from a fence.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Week in Seven Words #226 & 227

226

chilling
There's never sunlight on that door, only a cold, still shade.

choreography
A ballerina soars across a corrugated roof.

dodging
I can see in his expression when he knows he's gone too far, but decides to keep going anyway. He forces himself to enjoy his own rudeness, his own petty cruelty, because the alternative is to be flooded with shame.

picturesque
Oval windows frame the reflection of trees and purple flowers.

reboot
Flopping facedown on the couch: Endurance and patience have been mostly depleted - time to recharge.

uneasiness
Is laughter always a fear response? I think laughter and fear are closely linked. Even when we don't think we're laughing in relief or in nervousness, the jokes we laugh at tap into our anxieties about ourselves. We laugh at things we might become or misfortunes we narrowly avoided. We laugh in acceptance of something odd that might have been dangerous, but is merely strange and possibly wonderful.

whispery
Flower-bearing trees rustling against fire escapes.

227

brushing
He runs his hand up and down his face, as if clearing away cobwebs from his eyes.

demitasse
The smell of sweat and coffee beans. Tinny music seeping out of headphones.

disregard
I am, once again, short on compassion for myself.

immobility
He defines a happy marriage as one that hasn't ended in divorce, not seeming to realize that people may spend a lifetime together in varying states of indifference and hostility.

metro
The air quivering, a dim light in the tunnel brightening, then the racket as the train enters the subway station.

purply
Last light of day slanting onto an empty purple vase.

undisturbed
He is calm and diplomatic. Even when listening to an unreasonable request, he has the look of someone contemplating rare wisdom.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Passion Fish (1992): Rediscovering yourself after tragedy and poor decisions

Title: Passion Fish
Director: John Sayles
Language: English
Rating: R (for language)

I love the unsentimental approach to the characters in this film and the friendship that develops between them. The movie doesn't so much have a happy ending, as it has a hopeful one. The characters have grown. They're stronger, and they've found strength in their relationship with each other.

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Passion Fish Poster. Via Wikipedia.


May-Alice (Mary McDonnell) is a soap opera star whose career ends when she gets paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident. She moves back to her old, empty family home in Louisiana, where she intends to waste away gloriously, watching TV, drinking and driving away a succession of nurses. The latest nurse to turn up at the house is Chantelle (Alfre Woodard), whose quiet, self-contained demeanor hides the fact that she's struggling with some serious problems of her own. The two women become friends, renewing their lives by making discoveries about who they can be and by helping each other. Each character has her own story arc; they develop together and independently.

Both McDonnell and Woodard are wonderful in their roles. There's also a strong cast of supporting characters, including: an outdoorsman, Rennie (David Strathairn), offering awkward, heartfelt offers of companionship; an easy-going womanizer, Sugar LeDoux (Vondie Curtis-Hall); and one of May-Alice's soap opera cast members, the elegant Rhonda (Angela Bassett), who visits her with a couple of other actresses. That visit leads to a really funny monologue, where one of the actresses describes the way she gave her all to a tiny movie role, early in her career, where she had only one line and played a woman who had been probed by an alien. (She really researched that character's motivations, and found a dozen of different ways to utter her one line about alien probing.)

Both May-Alice and Chantelle give themselves more fully to life as the movie goes by. The alternative is to blot themselves out with alcohol, drugs or hours of TV. They can either try to escape from themselves through self-destruction; or they can live with greater richness and variety of experience, within the constraints of past tragedies and poor choices. The way they open themselves up again to new relationships and experiences is inspiring to watch, particularly because it isn't portrayed in a cloying way.