Sabbath Day in Pound Ridge
My seven year old son and I woke at 6:00 AM today. We loaded our car with all the food that had been donated and collected at our church and delivered it to the local food pantry. This is one of August’s jobs every month as one of two young “food stewards” in our congregation. We arrived at 7:00, just as the doors were opening, and were greeted by Lorraine, the director of the program. We delivered our ten bags or so of food to be shared with our neighbors and then walked down the street to a small diner to enjoy ourselves a breakfast of pancakes and corned beef hash.
Over breakfast we finished the last dozen or so pages in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. We had stayed up late last night reading, leaving only these pages for today. I was completely unprepared to openly weep in the diner, but I did, and had to stop multiple times because I was choked up witnessing Harry’s grief for Sirius Black and the support given Harry by his friends. August was patient with me. Then, having sat with that emotion just about as long as a seven-year old could, we had just enough time left before school began to rush headlong into Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Oh Cornelius Fudge!
My goal for this sabbath was to spend as much of the day outdoors as I could and to enjoy the wonderfully warm weather. I left straight from school, planning to hike the Mianus River Gorge in Bedford. The trail was slated to open on April 1, but when I arrived I found that the opening has been postponed another week due to ice on the trail. Disappointed, but ready for whatever surprises now lay ahead, I opened my copy of Walkable Westchester and looked for a nearby Park. Thus, my discovery of Pound Ridge.
I pause here to remind my readers that a year ago I set out to walk every park, preserve, sanctuary, conservancy, farm, reservation and trail in Westchester, using Jane and Walt Daniels’ Walkable Westchester as a guide. The Westchester Trails Association has since combined and organized the over 180 trail systems in this book into 100 hikes known as the Westchester 100. My joy today was to reach my half-way point by hiking over 13 miles and completing my 50th walk.
I spent all day walking. I wandered all over Pound Ridge, from tiny parks (between one and two miles of trails) like Bye Preserve, Carolin’s Grove (photo above) and Clark Preserve to larger parks like the Pound Ridge Town Park and the Westchester Wilderness Walk. The later comprises 6.7 miles of interconnected trails traversing vernal ponds and marshland, through forest and elevated ridges. It was beautiful to hop from rock to rock through all the spring wetness (photo below), and taste the snow melt running over rocks on its way down to the Mianus River Gorge and on to the Long Island Sound. The paths are well marked and easy to follow, ideal for hiking with children. Helpful and humorous signs can be found all along the trail, and the southern loop sports a series of lettered boxes containing ink stamps so children can map and mark their progress. The park has a bit of everything. I will definitely return later in the year to observe the developed habitats.
And what a difference a week makes. I have been hiking again over the last two weeks, but this week the spring peepers were out and LOUD, skunk cabbage spears were everywhere, the ice was gone, and I saw three snakes, five deer, and countless birds.
After a quick slice of pizza in Scotts Corners (population 711), I drove in circles before finally finding my last hike of the day: Halle Ravine Nature Preserve/Pine Terrance Preserve. It is unmarked with only a small pull-off for maybe two cars in front of a dilapidated white fence. But what a find! A flat, gently rising upper path provides great views over the ravine through which a much more interesting path passes back and forth over the stream.
Back home in the evening, I enjoyed the monthly Oktoberfest menu at Dunne’s Pub in White Plains. Our table was filled with sauerbraten, veal schnitzel, a variety of wursts, red cabbage, potato pancakes, applesauce and pints of Spaten.
How do you find rest and refreshment this week?