Sunday, April 30, 2017

Quick Loop

A  collectable action figure on display at Grand Central Station

I missed the early train, and the weather was a bit gloomy, so I didn't quite have the heart for a long trek.  Just did the quick loop from Cold Spring station: Washburn (white) - Notch (blue) - Brook (red) - Cornish (blue).

Atop Bull Hill

a slightly different angle gives a glimpse of the Hudson
As often in the spring, certain stretches of woods look magical, as if of Faƫrie:

a portion of the Notch trail

I got back to town just 6 minutes before a return train, so I did not dally.  Map My Hike clocked the walk as 6.92 miles, but that includes crossing over to the train station.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Fancy hair and lilacs

pre-bloom wisteria

families on the cherry esplanade

Starting a Cartwheel


anime characters posing for a photo shoot

parasols for a photoshoot

Sheer Joy - throwing handfuls of petals into the air

Prospect Park

redbud outside a children's playground

in the shade of a cherry tree, on a carpet of cherry blossom petals

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Kids' Lit

So, this month I saw The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical  off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway.

For both shows, I had front row seats.  This was much more fun for The Lightning Thief, where the first few rows get doused with giant pieces of glitter and streams of "water" symbolized by (happily clean and dry) toilet paper.   By contrast, at the Willy Wonka show, a front center seat merely meant that occasionally the tilt of the stage prevented me from seeing everything clearly.

Percy Jackson was an unmitigated delight. The teenage angst element could easily have been overdone, but they kept it in check.  It worked.   I loved Sally's song "Strong" - she belted it out and moved me to tears.  Creative use of barebones scenery and props gave the show a scrappy energy suitable to the subject matter, and the actors and actresses were likewise versatile in their multiple roles.  I especially loved the actor playing Chiron, who used relatively subtle shifts in posture and musculature to give the right sense of horsiness to his centaur without a full-fledged costume.  (The puppeteers in War Horse at Lincoln Center did something similar too, to good effect - although that required coordination among multiple performers.)

As for Willy Wonka, my feelings are more mixed.  The boy playing Charlie Bucket was quite winsome, and I really liked the early scenes establishing his home life and poverty as well as Mr. Wonka's apparent heartlessness.  Other than Augustus Gloop, the Golden Ticket winners were nicely updated, I thought, and many of their trials were well realized.  The squirrels (BAD Nut!) were great, and the Oompah-Loompahs were performed hilariously with puppets. So much of it worked, that it was actually a little surprising to find it a bit flat at the end.  Perhaps I just didn't buy the sudden familial warmth between Wonka and Charlie, or maybe it seemed creepy to have such warmth suddenly switched on, highlighted and foregrounded while Charlie's well-established loving family is nowhere to be seen.  (Yes, Wonka says they've been settled in the factory.  But we don't see them.  They don't share in this moment; they're not there to share Charlie's triumph or to protect him from this grown man who has granted all the boy's wishes in one fell swoop.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cold Spring to Beacon, and an Aerial Show (Turkey Vultures!)

A strangely split tree trunk on the Notch trail
After last weekend's warmup in Tuxedo, NY, it  was time for the first longish hike of the season.  Key motivation?  I'd recently finished up my wonderful bottle of Manzanillo Varietal olive oil, and I could buy a replacement in Beacon!  It started like so many other Cold Srping hikes (Washburn-Notch), with the opportunity to bail out at the junction with the Brook trail. But I thought of olive oil, and soldiered on.

I went past the turn-off for the Casino trail, specifically to hit at least the very first scenic viewpoint  on the Wilkinson Memorial trial.

Though I was tired, I was very well rewarded for the effort. As I stood in the weakening afternoon light, with a cloud of gnats nearby, I saw a smallish bird pop up and attempt to hover like a hummingbird -- presumably feasting on the insects.  It popped up again, and I almost think I got a picture of it, but only if you already know what you're looking at and have a will to believe.  As I was wondering at what I'd just seen, I noticed a turkey vulture flying low and close.  Then another, and another.  And another.  Once or twice, one seemed to be heading toward me!!  I didn't capture them when they were super-close, but only as they zoomed out and around.

I think I counted 7-10 for sure all at once.  I stayed for a while, watching.  It was amazing.  Afterward, I considered going on for the Fishkill Ridge trail, but that was clearly going to be too ambitious.  Instead, I backtracked to the Casino trail.

However, as I approached the cement ruins that lead to the overlook, I decided to take a shortcut to the descent rather than going up to see the mechanism again. As it turns out, that particular footpath, after an initial descent, did not rejoin the red-blazed Casino path.  Instead, it followed the contour lines of the hill to my right and led to this very cool ruined house, which I'd never seen before:

Home, Sweet Home
The footpath I'd followed was in fact shown on my map, but it was not named (or blazed, for that matter).  The house hanging off the hillside, held up and destroyed by trees growing in and through it, was not shown on the map.  They may not really want people exploring this ruin.

All in all, including detours intended and unintended, it was about 12.5 miles.  From Cold Spring train station, I went up Washburn (white) to Notch (blue) to Breakneck Ridge (white) to Wilkinson Memorial (yellow) to Casino (red).  Thereafter, I walked down 9D (Wolcott Ave) toward the Beacon train station, but turned right on Tioranda Avenue after crossing Fishkill Creek to get to Main Street.  This turns out to be the ideal way to reach Main Street, as far as I'm concerned.  You come out right at the heart of the restaurant area - in fact, right across from the Beacon Falls Cafe, where I usually dine.  Unfortunately, it was closed; apparently their Sunday hours are 10-4, worse luck!  I went down toward the train station and bought some olive oil from Scarborough Fare.

a tiny gem of a sunset back in the city

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Riot of Lilacs, Grape Hyacinths, and Crabapple Blossoms

At the Eastern Parkway entrance, yellow magnolia blossoms have arrived.

Grape Hyacinths By Bench and Pole

Crabapple Blossoms - White

Crabapple Blossoms - Red

Violets and Dandelions - Closeup

Under the lilac trees...

Early Lilac

I kept trying to capture the magical sense of a river of grape hyacinths flowing under and around the lilacs...  Fuzziness in the photo seems to be the price to pay for approximating this impressionistic effect.

The weeping cherries are past their prime, but the trees on the esplanade are in full bloom.

I have no idea why these photos came out as essentially black and white, with flashes of color.  But the effect is kinda cool.

I had planned to take notes on this pale peach  blossom, but somehow failed to do so...

Redbud shrub



Cherries (of course!)


"Common Periwinkle, Creeping Myrtle, Flower-of-Death" (?!)