can be wondrous. A silent dream.
A wolf could probably take this one-and-a half-mile trail in around ten minutes, loping the loop.
If a wolf inhabited these woods. Which is improbable. Bears, though, might. And beavers, definitely. Evidence of their newly gnawed work abounds.
It’s gloriously somber and moody today, but could be restful if you took advantage of the benches carefully placed along the way.
I’m hiking the opposite direction of the way I usually go. Clockwise, starting in the wildflower tract, now of course devoid of flowers in winter. The lake itself at the 1,000-acre Teatown Lake Reservation was created in 1924 when Bailey’s Brook was dammed.
Yes, I would like to climb you. Thank you for the invitation.
I’ve heard exactly one sound in the thirty minutes I’ve walked: a lone dog barking in the distance. And now the geese, skidding to a landing on the surface of the lake. They sound as if they’re yelping as they go.
I know from speaking with a knowledgeable person on the Goose Patrol at Ellis Island that the ones passing through on their migration are about to start mating, hatching goslings. I can’t wait. I also find I cannot wait to go around the next turn here and see what awaits me.
It begins to seem silly, the baggage I carried in. Worries over money, love, work. They have no place here among the fallen brown leaves and the lichen.
The emerald moss.
The roots that sprawl over the path. My only worry here is that I might trip and break an ankle, so I take it slow.
I recently heard the buzzphrase slow travel, which means immersion in a place, being present in the moment rather than whisking yourself along a route to see more, more, more. This is a slow hike.
Yes, if you go up, then you must go down. Hikers always say the downhill is harder. I don’t know. Today I don’t care.
Clearly there is no fishing allowed here on the lake.
They mean it when they say so. Another bench, a graceful one.
But I’m not stopping. Some trees are funny. You have to ask yourself sometimes, What do they think they’re doing? There is surely a reason for it all.
The ancient locust trees here nearly overwhelm with their personality.
I think I’ll walk as far as I can. I’m never going home.
The surface of the water is so placid. I watch the ducks dunk for their supper. It’s so easy for them. Or at least it looks easy. Maybe it’s not! Maybe every day is a challenge, even for ducks.
Scouting for beaver dens. Where are they? I see protection against them all over the shoreline.
I scare up a pair of mallards, male and female. I’m sorry! Pardon me, but do you mate for life?
I start to cross the bridge. Sometimes don’t you feel so alone? At those moments it feels good to be actually alone, physically alone.
Then a couple of humans approach out of nowhere, male and female, all in black. They seem to be racewalking toward me. Really? There’s so much to take your time for here.
Teatown does a nice job maintaining this place. Someone recently repaired the bridge walk using great care.
It’s cultivated woods here, not forest. The fifteen miles of trails have been well tagged, in every color of the rainbow, practically.
Overhead, in the distance, undeniable evidence of humans.
It seems every bench and small bridge is named for someone special.
Might not mind that so much if I knew the people. I like things that are nameless, though. Anonymous stone walls mark a different era.
I used to live near here, in Ossining, just down the road. In an old, old log cabin. Seems like such a long time ago. I don’t want to go back there. But I still love these woods.
Ever have this feeling that you might get lost, even though you know you can’t possibly get lost? I know that if I hug the shore of this lake and keep going, I will return to where I started. Still. I don’t quite remember being here before, in this exact spot. The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety. Goethe said that.
The dog barks again. It’s not as if I’m out in the wild.
But it is so deserted here, so devoid of immediate human presence that I feel I can void my bladder trailside. Pee like nobody’s watching! to paraphrase about a million folks.
Thank you kindly, Mr. Root, said the fallen branch, for offering me a place to rest myself.
Some things just look staged, even here. There’s red oak with a humorous burl.
Probably more comical if you’re a tree person. Will someone please explain what happened here, that a stone wound up grasped between twin trunks?
What is the biology?
The beech leaves hold on through the winter. Beech leaf disease is having a moment. I don’t care to think about it today.
I have hit the dam, so I know where I am, though they’ve “improved” this area so much with riprap I barely recognize it.
Still the water fluices down, unstoppable.
When will I get back? Dark is falling. Still, no one is expecting me. I could fall asleep out here for long time, years even, and nobody would miss me. Perhaps in this old rustic shelter.
I see lights in the near distance. As night descends, things just get more and more beautiful.
I’ll be back just in time for what really got me here – a panel discussion at Teatown about trees, and how great they are. All about ecosystems, carbon sequestration, thermoregulation.
Somehow I think I’ve already done the math.
On the other hand, there might be cookies there. Or at least granola bars. I better show up.