The October days of late have had cool nights, blue sky days with lots of puffy fair weather clouds and a sun, that when you’re out in the middle of the day, shines on you with the kind of warmth that makes you say “ah-h-h”, does that feel good! Yes, it’s the same sun that in the summer on a 90 degree plus mid-day would make us seek shade and elicit quite different kinds of verbal responses.
I had promised I would take Nathaniel and his two friends fishing. So off we went to the newly-discovered-for-us fisherman’s parking lot and access to the Ramapo River. The Ramapo River flows along the western side of Harriman Park and while going to and from the park trails we have passed this access area before but never drove down into it. It’s quite beautiful, almost nobody else there, open areas along the shoreline where kids and adults can easily cast their lines. This is a wide part of the river and the few times we have been there it felt like a pond - the water was still because of lack of recent rainfall. And the view across to the eastern bank, with trees, shrubs, wetland vegetation of all types and darting dragonflies, reminded me of scenes I encountered during some of my Canadian wilderness canoe trips. Wild, colorful, beautiful.
This site would definitely qualify if I were asked to imagine “what might the perfect fishing hole look like?” Now mind you, not “perfect” in numbers of fish caught – the last time we were here Nathaniel caught a solitary sunny.
And not perfect in terms of noise. In fact upon first stepping out of your car you feel as if you are within some kind of surround sound booth whose dial has been turned to highway, car and truck noise plus occasional railroad trains speeding by!
You are in the middle of and very close to (without leaves you can see right in front (or back of you) the following north-south noise corridors: the very busy NY State Thruway, to the east. To the west is busy NY Route 17 and on many weekend days ‘very’ can be added as people go to and from The Renaissance Fair in warm weather and two family ski areas in the winter.
And wait, There’s more. The tracks of the Erie Railroad Main Line are parallel to Route 17 at this point, in fact they are between you and 17. And I would call them active tracks, i.e. trains seem to speed by on a regular basis.
Now I have to be fair, even though it’s not a noise producer except in times of heavy rain, there is the north-south flowing (at least here) Ramapo River itself.
Oh yes, the fishing trip that day. We went up the Thruway, got off at 17 north, through Sloatsburg and Tuxedo and then we had to wait in a long line of cars going to the aforementioned Renaissance Festival. Everyone turned left at the Route 106 intersection. We were the only car that turned right. We immediately crossed over the railroad tracks and then an immediate left down to the river access area.
The boys threw out their lines. Nathaniel, having to use a borrowed pole that day, was a bit down and not into it but he helped the other boys with their hooks, bait, etc.
And then we saw the first one – a monarch butterfly, majestically orange and black, heading southward! I saw my last monarch two years ago. You can read about the plight of the Monarch butterflies in a previous piece we wrote in the Dirt, which you can read here. Just recently I read that the monarch will probably be put on the endangered species list.
Then we saw another, and still another – stopping along the shore for a nectar break; resting on a leaf; wavering a bit to and fro and sometimes up and down while flying – but, ever southward, each of the 12 we saw. The boys, especially Nathaniel, turned to looking for monarchs since the fish were not biting. My heart was filled with joy, the boys were excited, all of our senses focused on each passing monarch. Nothing else existed for us during each sighting – truck, car, train noises included.
While driving home I began to think of another (the 5th) north-south corridor at this spot besides the roads, tracks and river: the path/route/aerial highway that the monarchs are following south. We were on or in or part of that pathway today. I wonder what other kinds of pathways or ‘flows’ of nature we are in or sometimes part of : solar rays, energies of different types, gravity, the earth’s magnetic field, water cycles, weather patterns, nature spirits, spirits of place. And if we consider the electronic transmissions that must pass through us by way of all of our electronic devices… well, there’s a lot going on, happening to us, just by the fact that we are on earth.
As my imaginations about this were really pumping up, the boys reminded me what was just ahead: Auntie Ell’s garden and farm center, and – the reason for traditionally stopping – it’s bakery with great homemade doughnuts. Okay, the boys want me to tell you, apple turnovers, too.
It was a great day. Someone once said they all are. Maybe we just have to look at them in a different way.