Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Skiing the W&OD

This weekend we had one of those (cue dramatic music and digital titles) "Storm of the Century" storms. It's pretty unusual for us to get enough snow to ski here in Arlington so I took the opportunity to strap on my skis and hit the trail. Clearly I wasn't the only one with this idea. By the time I hit the trail there were well established ski grooves and I came across about half a dozen other skiers along the way.

The W&OD trail was a pristine winter wonderland. The little foot bridge over Four Mile Run to the trail was like a pathway into a deep wood. I love the look of streams in snow and paused to reflect on the Four Mile Run before continuing on. I took the trail through the parks, down past the caboose, all the way to Carlin Springs Rd. Pretty much my morning running route. There was so much snow that even some of the typical bare spots under the overpasses were filled in. No problem at McKinley Rd. A few steps over bare spots at Patrick Henry Drive. The only real bare patch was the long underpass under Wilson Blvd.

This morning I tried to repeat the experience with less satisfacotry results. The W&OD trail had been plowed clear of snow (the bike trail was cleared before my street!). Fortunately there were new ski grooves cut alongside the trail. Unfortunately, about 1/2 mile down the trail one of my 30 year old ski boots gave out - the "duckbill" that attaches to the ski broke off. Still, it was nice to have a second taste of skiing the trail and it was a quick walk home.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Swan Song for Brooklyn?

It's not as cold as I expected as I step out the door of the Sheepshead Bay Comfort Inn. I'm at the southernmost end of Brooklyn, an area exposed to outer New York Bay and the ocean beyond. In the summer this can result in a nice cooling breeze. In the winter, it can mean a biting wind. I indeed feel the wind as I step out from the shelter of the hotel and begin my run up Emmons Avenue. It's blowing hard enough that I squint my eyes a little in response. I'm dressed right, though, and so it doesn't bother me.

I make my way up Emmons Ave, past the abandoned Dunkin' Donuts and the half completed condos. The bay opens up to my left as I pass the fishing boat docks. A few people mill about. The morning fishing boats have already left and the stores aren't open yet so there's not much reason for people to be out and about, however being New York there's always someone around. My run takes me down through Sheepshead Bay, over the footbridge that crosses the bay, then down through the relatively ritzy neighborhood of Manhattan Beach, and ultimately to the campus of Kingsborough Community College, known locally as "K on the Bay".

On the way back I notice the ducks in the water have been joined by a number of mute swans. I don't come to Brooklyn expecting to see wildlife so it's a pleasant surprise to see these beautiful creatures adding a touch of grace to the otherwise gray and murky scene.

Friday night I had dinner with a bunch of old high school friends, none of whom live in Brooklyn any more. Few of them ever make it back here. I have been coming back here to visit family all these years but may soon be in the same boat. Now that my mom is gone I don't whether my dad will continue to live here. My connections to the old place are fading. One of these trips could be my own Brooklyn swan song.

[Photo from http://www.planetware.com/]