Sunday, December 04, 2005
A walk in the snow
Top: George Washington Bridge pedestrian path. Middle: Looking north up the Hudson from the GWB. Bottom: Tunnel leading to the Hudson path on the New York side of the river, around 170th Street in Manhattan.
I awoke this morning to the first measureable snowfall of the season -- about 2 inches here in my part of northern New Jersey.
After putzing around my apartment waiting for Mother Nature to cease the light drizzle that ended the storm, I decided to take a long walk, something I hadn't done in a couple of weeks. The cold weather would be just right for a brisk, sweat-free pace. The cloudy sky would provide just the right level of brightness and contrast to view the beautiful blanket of white covering Manhattan.
I love to walk. I live to walk.
I've walked halfway around Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands, on a Buddhist temple-visiting pilgrimage. I hope to complete the pilgrimage in 2006.
I love walking from North Jersey to Brooklyn, the City of Churches, seeing some of the same sights and walking some of the same ground as that most poetic of inveterate walkers, Walt Whitman.
I got off to a late start today because I indulged my other passion: drinking cup after cup of good, strong tea. If China and Japan had given us nothing else, tea would have been enough.
It was 1:45 by the time I set out. I had wanted to walk to Brooklyn, but there wouldn't be enough daylight to get there and part of the way back home before darkness fell.
So, I walked as far as I could in the time I had.
It was a sublime pleasure having the footpath of the George Washington Bridge, which spans the mighty Hudson, to myself. Once across the bridge, the foot/bicycle path that hugs the Hudson southward to the tip of Manhattan Island appeared nearly untrodden this day, with just a few footprints in the fresh snow to indicate anyone had passed this way. I think I ran into six people the whole time.
When the weather is nice, it seems all of humanity is on this path. You have to be constantly vigilant for hotshot cyclists in their designer attire, some of whom come justthisclose to knocking you on your ass and who seem genuinely bitter at having to share the road.
And then there are the novice inline skaters who, with arms flailing and shouts of "Coming through!," threaten to knock down those walkers who the cyclists miss.
But today, I was nearly alone, and it was paradise.
I got as far as 100th Street and the Hudson River before calling a friend to meet for -- what else? -- tea at a popular Columbia University student hangout at 110th and Broadway.
So, my epic jaunt became a five-mile stroll. But it felt so good to have that path to myself. The chill in the air made me keenly aware of my pace and my surroundings.
It was five miles geographically, but 10,000 leagues spiritually.