Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sometimes We Need a Quick Escape

Sometimes we urban dwellers long, this time of year, for a glimpse of sky and freshly budding greenery.

Sometimes, the closer the better. Sometimes, it's enough to walk down the steps at the end of our street into Riverside Park. But sometimes, that's too close. Sometimes we need to get in the car, in order to get away. But not stay in that car too long.

Sometimes, when the parents have decided that's it's time to escape, during the planning and packing up stage, the kids revolt. Sometimes they say they are not leaving the apartment at all today under any circumstances. Sometimes they claim they have very essential TV to watch or very essential hanging around to do. Sometimes they say that it's so mean for you to make us go on a hike. Sometimes, the parents must cajole and threaten and find themselves somewhat miserable just trying to shake these tired sacks out of their stasis.

But sometimes, once we get there, just twenty short minutes over the bridge into Fort Lee, where there is a lovely, wild public park that straddles the riverbanks on the north and south sides of the George Washington Bridge, everything changes. Sometimes the kids pick up walking sticks, and look for trail markers, and get excited following winding paths across the entry lanes to the bridge, which we all find to offer a very neat, new vantage point on a familiar place. Sometimes, even the three-year-old walks on her own two feet the whole way, since she's a big girl and she wants to do just what her sisters do and this is no place for strollers anyway. Sometimes, when we find that the walk down the cliffs to the river involves steep switchbacks and hundreds of winter-wet, all-sized, often-loose stone steps, the children step up to the challenge. Sometimes they focus, sometimes they sing. Sometimes, they seem like different people altogether from the humbugs they were in the apartment just hours before.

Sometimes, when they're busy smelling and listening to the wind and feeling their own flowing blood, they actually say Thank you for taking us on a hike. We really like hiking. When are we going to go camping? Can you please take us camping? And sometimes we reply by saying, I know.

(These photos were taken a week and a half ago, in Fort Lee Historic Park. My guess is by now it looks a lot greener. A week makes a big difference, this time of year.)

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