As a Westerner venturing into the wilds of the East, it takes time to appreciate the region’s natural beauty. No crags here, no canyons, no shimmering plains. No sweeping views that some overripe Victorian would have called “both terrible and sublime!”
Today, I took the bike path that follows the Old Put some 45 miles north of the Bronx all the way to Brewster in Putnam County (nearly 60 miles north from my house, which I only point out so that you know what a beast on the bike I am).
Out north of Elmsford, you begin to learn about the spirit of the Eastern woods. It is hard to describe, because it lacks that Occidental splendor factor. Sure, it’s the peak of autumn, so the colors are great — but that hardly gets to the heart of the matter. Mile after mile, it creeps on you. And when I returned and lay down exhausted in my bed, I closed my eyes and, without effort, saw myself projected through deep yellowing forests, the trees like wispy old fingers, a gray sky, a winding path strewn with rusty leaves, going on and on.
Below, crossing the bridge at the New Croton Reservoir.