By Caitlin Kelly
This riverside park, just north of Nyack, N.Y., is barely 25 miles north of New York City, barely a 40-minute train or car’s journey from the traffic and noise and crush and crowds of Times Square.
Here is another New York, the one its residents equally treasure.
Here, the world is wild, a rare, refreshing place of silence. It’s an easy 15 minute drive from our apartment on the other side of the river.
I’m looking northwest at these cliffs as I write this post, and they’re our first sight every morning from our bedroom window.
I love living at the edge of a river, watching its moods change with the hours and the seasons. Sometimes you can see a rainstorm moving down the water like a scrim, like this legendary 1857 Japanese woodcut.
In the bitterest of winters, the river freezes, and if you stand at its edge you’ll hear the ice cracking and groaning.
These cliffs are 200 million years old, first described in 1541 by the map-maker Mercator. Today they’re called The Palisades.
The famous “brownstones” of Manhattan and Brooklyn? Quarried here.
The only sounds are a murder of crows squawking high atop the cliffs, waves lapping the stony shore, the scree of a soaring red-tailed hawk, the drone of a passing airplane.
Yet you can glimpse Manhattan — what locals call The City — shimmering 30 miles south, like some faint version of Oz.
On the eastern shore, the train carrying commuters to work in New York City, and all the towns and cities along the way, slides south like a slim, silvery snake.
The Hudson is still commercially highly active, with barges heading north and south every day carrying coal, gravel and other elements. They’re always guided by tug boats, stout little vessels with tremendous power.
I wonder if this brick was former ballast.
I love seeing what’s washed up on the shores, like this oyster shell. The Hudson has 13 acres (!) of oyster beds in this area, recently moved at a cost of $100,000 from a mile north of the Tappan Zee Bridge (now under re-construction) to further south to protect them from harm during the work.
The variety of foliage, even in winter, is amazing. I have no idea what this is, but isn’t it amazing? It looks like a messy horse’s tail.
One of the sights I’ve grown accustomed to here are these vines, entwined. They’re a common sight — yet they never fail to mesmerize me.
I love bittersweet. It’s one of my favorite sights in the parks and woods here.
The base of these cliffs is also fascinating — the indentations remind me of the Canyon de Chelly, one of Arizona’s most ancient and mysterious indigenous sites.
This is the path. In the winter, populated only by walkers and their dogs, it’s a pleasant stroll. In the summer, when too many people stride across it, plus whizzing cyclists, I find it less enjoyable and safe.
Here’s a terrific book about all the ruined and abandoned buildings along the Hudson. There are many, and they’re mysterious and beautiful.
Here’s a useful essay that explains the region’s geology and history.
Do you have a favorite place you like to walk near your home?