A Hint Of Green: Southbound On Train #238

[Everything is ON TIME]

Aboard the 12:10 train for Penn Station

I check my watch as the train jolts into motion.  It’s 12:09.

There was a time when Mariam and I would make the trip from Manhattan to Rainbow Lake in one day.  It was 305 miles from our apartment door on W. 93rd Street to our driveway at 58 Garondah Road, deep in the heart of the North Country.  Oddly, it was exactly the same distance from the driveway of my childhood home (420 Front Street) in Owego, New York.  But that’s beside the point.

We left our city apartment in November of 2011 and moved to the Adirondacks.  My childhood dream was realized…I was living in my favorite playground.  Now, I could hike, kayak and bike to my heart’s content.

Reality set in quickly.  I had serious lower back issues and my right foot was problematic.  Hiking became less enjoyable…it actually became unbearibly painful.

“Age appropriate,” said my orthopedic surgeon.

“Thanks,” I said as I thought about where I would store my snowshoes and x-country skis.

Fast forward to the present moment.  We no longer make the trip to the city in one day.  Our favorite hotel is on Wolf Road in Albany.  Mariam has since retired from her job of fifty-one years in health care.  It wasn’t a total break, however.  She is now the President of the Hemophilia Association of New York.  That means quarterly trips to the city.  We’re on such a trip as I write this.  We’re old hands at this, although we still use SIRI to get from our hotel to the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station.

I’d like to say that the gentle rocking of the coach is nap-inducing, but in reality, its nausea-inducing.  We make sure our seats are close to the restroom.  The train is really not rocking at all, it’s jerking me from side to side like a Yuma cowboy at the County Rodeo.  I’m having trouble hitting the right keys as I write this.  I’m using my MacBook Air without a mouse.  The heels of my hands are firmly planted on the deck of the laptop, but still I hit the wrong keys.  Three sentences ago, I meant to type “The train is really not rocking at all…”, but what appeared on the screen was: “Yug brain is ggreally not frocking ab vall”.

I’d like to say that in a half-hour, I intend to stroll back to dining car to sip a cognac and play a few hands of Whist, but in reality, there’s is no dining car on this particular train.  What made me think I was on the American version of the Orient Express?  But, hey, given the present state of rail travel in a country that sold its soul to Detroit and spends zillions of dollars on the Interstate System, I should be happy to settle for what we do have.

And, this trip is a little different for another reason.  I’m running away from a very long and depressing winter in the North Country.  It’s still January at Rainbow Lake.  I had to shovel a path to the garage just yesterday.  I’ve been filling the bird feeders two or three times a day.  Our respite in the city, where flowers are blooming I’m told, is only for a week.  Then its back to the snow, which I promise, will still be present in our front yard until early June.

As I look out at the Hudson River to my right, I do not see any snow…only on the tops of the distant Catskill Mountains.  Alongside the tracks, in the trees that line the river, I see wisps, mere hints, faint washes of pale green.  Spring is arriving in this middle land between the Adirondacks and urban New York. Across the river, on the western shore, I think I see forsythia shrubs in bloom.  The yellow is intense.  Some of the trees are starting to bud with a reddish hue.

[One of the many lighthouses of the Hudson River.]

It’s great to see color after six months of a monochromatic grayness.

Now, if I can only hold myself steady against the jerking of the train, and not slam the right side of my head against the plexiglass window sustaining a slight concussion, I can end this post.  But, I must find my email first.

We’re passing a nuclear power plant.  I think I’m starting to glow.

Do I see the George Washington Bridge coming up on my right?  Soon, we’ll be in tunnel on the west side of Manhattan and I will lose the wireless.  This is my second posting from a moving train.  I’ve done it!

[All photos are mine.]

 

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Going Down The River On A Winter Day

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Aboard the Amtrak, Train #238.  Bound for Penn Station, NYC

I can’t sleep in this cramped seat.  It’s 4A, the window with a view of the Hudson River.  But there is no view.  It’s white enough for sunglasses.  I see West Point across the water, barely.  I snap a photo with my iPad mini.  It comes out blurry.  I’m already nauseous from the constant rocking of the coach.  Now, looking at the photo, I’m dizzy again.

We eat an expensive tuna salad wrap purchased in Albany.  Our plastic water bottle crinkles loudly when I pin it behind the tight elastic cord on the back of seat 5A.  The women in 5A is on her cell phone revealing  personal medical information.  I know what hospital her niece is a patient.

My wife is reading on her kindle app. Why isn’t she motion sick?

We’re below Croton-Harmon. The view is worse. Only the power lines glide past. Beyond, the Hudson is frozen to the far shore. A tug boat plows through the icy brine. Another to Penn Station.

I’m having trouble hitting the correct keys with the swaying and jerking of the train.

The sliding bathroom door just slammed shut. A toilet seat slams up or down, I can’t tell.

“Yonkers is the next stop”

Everything I see from the window is snow-covered. Everything I’ve seen for months has been snow-covered. I think I’m in a scene from “Dr. Zhivago”.

My soul has hope, however. It is not as bleak as the passing landscape. On Tuesday (I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon), we will be on a plane to Puerto Rico for a week. Not on a southbound train moving through yet another winter storm.

The river is breaking up into ice floes. We’re ten minutes from our destination. The snow is falling at a slant.

I can see nothing visibly alive outside.

Nothing visibly alive.

All the life along the frozen Hudson is there, but dormant until the warmth of spring..

A little like me.