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.
On day two of our vacation, we decided to visit the final day of the Picton County Fair, in Prince Edward County, about two hours east of Toronto.
It was one of those perfect fall afternoons — hot sunshine with a cool breeze.
— a lawnmower race (Jason plowed into a hay bale)
— a collection of antique tractors, including one from 1926 and this one from 1953
— the entries in the flower and food competitions
— some fantastic quilts, embroidery, crochet and hooked rugs
— a huge red $175,000 tractor
— a very stubborn goat who, when it was time to parade around the ring for the 4H contest, dug in his hooves, bleated and simply refused to budge
— some gorgeous vintage automobiles, including this one
Watching the four young girls posing with their goats was fascinating, as they moved, kneeling in the sawdust, from one side of their animal to the other, rearranged their goat’s legs for the best pose, and awaited the judge’s decision.
It takes a lot of poise and training to wrangle a small stubborn beast, and I admired their dedication. In New York, the girls would have been the ones preening and posing, nervously subject to dismissal.
Here, instead, they were in charge.
And we really liked the judge’s decision to hoist the stubborn one and move him into the ring to get on with it, already. He could have left its owner crying at the entrance, but he didn’t.
I loved seeing all the skills people here are proud of, whether growing a 74 pound pumpkin or hooking a rug…I couldn’t do any of them!
It’s humbling to be reminded how little city-folk generally know about how to care for animals or vegetables or fruit or how to create lovely things for your home. Instead, we buy stuff from enormous corporations, most of it made by low-wage labor in some distant Asian sweatshop.
The inn we chose is simply amazing, a square white building built in 1838 and moved to its current location a few years ago in numbered pieces, then re-constructed by a local historian.
A pair of Toronto lawyers have poured Godknowshowmuchmoney into renovating it, to perfection. It’s a little austere, but serene, all in calm, neutral colors: rust, cream, olive, black.
It has only four guest rooms, but we were the only people here for all three nights.
So we had this exquisite place all to ourselves: wide plank floors, some original glass in the windows casting bubbled and swirling shadows, a formal oil portrait in the hallway. I love looking out at the trees through ancient glass, wondering what others were thinking when they did so a century and a half ago.
The only sound we can hear is wind rustling the crisping leaves, blown from Lake Ontario across the street.
The front door handle is small, round, brass — even opening the door transports you to a different time and way of moving through space.
I imagine being a woman of the period, alighting from our carriage, and sweeping in with a wide, bustled skirt to a home with no electricity, wi-fi or telephone.
And the stars here are glorious, the Milky Way blessedly once more visible.
If you live or work in the United States, vacation is a taboo word for many people — their employers don’t offer paid time off and/or they just can’t afford to take any.
Or they’re such workaholics they can’t bear the thought of missing a call/email/client meeting.
The typical American workplace offers a measly two weeks off each year. As someone who runs at a very high speed, and who loves to travel, taking time off whenever I want and can afford to is one of the reasons I stay self-employed.
I tend to work at a pretty intense pace. The harder/faster I run, the more downtime I need to recharge and come back at it, hard, with gusto — not weary resentment.
The two-martini lunch may be extinct, but another perk common to yesteryear’s workplace, the two-week vacation, is making a comeback. No longer limited to students, honeymooners and retirees, drawn-out holidays are finding converts in overachieving professionals.
“It used to be that Americans did the drive-by vacation,” breezing through major tourist attractions, said Anne Morgan Scully, president of McCabe World Travel, an upscale travel agency in McLean, Va. “They’re not doing that anymore.” Her company has seen a 25% to 30% increase in longer holiday bookings over the last year, she said.
Plenty of Americans have a hard time taking vacation at all. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about a quarter of private-industry workers didn’t get any paid time off in 2012. And some who have holiday packages are loath to max them out, for fear of seeming dispensable in a still-shaky economy.
The lack of American vacation time strikes people living in many other nations — Australia, Canada, much of Europe — as weird indeed. But here, where affordable health insurance is tied to your job, and you’re scared to lose both, going anywhere for very long feels too risky to many people. (Talk about a capitalist culture!)
I try to take off six weeks a year, or more, if possible. My trips are rarely exotic or costly, but I desperately need to get out of our apartment, where I work alone all day, and our (lovely) town where I’ve lived for 24 years.
I need new scenery, new experiences, foreign accents, adventure!
Our recent two-week trip to Arizona was perfect, even with temperatures that could soar to 100 by noon. I saw old friends, made new ones, did a bit of work, bought some pretty new clothes, took lots of photos, read for pleasure, lay by the hotel pool, did a long road trip, stayed in a funky hotel, stayed in nature for five days.
The best part?
No computer. I didn’t touch my laptop for five full days, which made me feel like I’d been gone for a month, not merely five days off the net.
I came home blessedly and gratefully refreshed, ready to pick up the traces again.
Our next vacation is planned for two weeks mid-September.
We had hoped for Newfoundland, but are doing some planned, costly renovations instead. Luckily, we now have a tent and sleeping pads and a car that will accommodate our sports gear, so even a two or three-hour drive in any direction can take us to somewhere fun and new — the shore of Long Island Sound in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, even as far as Delaware.
Here’s an unlikely essay, in yesterday’s The New York Times, from an American employer who actually gives his first-year employees four weeks off. Hire me, dude!
More than ever, we live in a culture that overvalues the ethic of “more, bigger, faster” and undervalues the importance of rest, renewal and reflection. I preach this lesson for a living, but I, too, can get so passionately immersed in my work that I intermittently forget to apply the lesson to myself.
A growing body of evidence suggests that more overall vacation time – intense effort offset regularly by real renewal — fuels greater productivity and more sustainable performance…If you’re in any sort of demanding job, it makes sense to take at least a week of true vacation every three months…
The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t mandate employers to provide vacation time. Most companies do provide it, but often stingily and insufficiently.
To my fellow leaders: Two weeks isn’t enough if what you’re seeking from your people is their best. Is there any doubt, for example, that the greater the demand, the more frequent our need to replenish and rejuvenate? Demand in our lives is rising so relentlessly that I’m beginning to believe even four weeks of vacation a year isn’t enough.
The most basic aim of a vacation ought to be restoration – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
A recent national survey of 977 people, published in Vanity Fair magazine offered some funny, and not so funny, statistics about Americans on vacation:
— 90 percent said they’d try to help a lost tourist
— but 21 percent (cheap bastards!) never leave a tip for the daily maid service for their room; luckily 29 percent said they leave $3 to $5 a day
— not at all surprising, only 1 percent said they prefer to travel by bus; 50 percent said car and 39 percent by plane. Only 5 percent (!), which is very American, chose the train — by far my favorite! But American train service is costly and atrocious compared to that of many other nations.
It’s been one year since Jose and I got married, on an island in the harbor of Toronto, in a church from 1888, by a minister with a ponytail and Birkenstocks. It was a lovely day, a small affair of only 25 close friends and family.
Unlike my first marriage, which I knew was pretty much doomed from the start, I was relaxed and happy on my second wedding day. I was marrying someone I knew well, who had nursed me through three surgeries (soon to be four.) We had already weathered the loss of jobs, the illness and deaths of loved ones, professional disappointments, (and triumphs), two recessions…
We were each marrying someone who’d already stayed the course.
Jose and I met, on-line, in March 2000, so we’ve been together almost 13 years.
I was working on a magazine piece for Mademoiselle, to compare and contrast a variety of dating sites. Back then, no one admitted to using them; as a single, lonely gal in the suburbs, with no kids, meeting men was proving sadly difficult.
Jose saw my photo and profile, with the truthful headline Catch Me If You Can, wrote me, and that was the start. Our first date was at a gorgeous, now-gone midtown French bistro, Le Madeleine. He wore a gray wool vintage coat and a bright red silk Buddhist prayer shawl as his muffler.
At the end of the evening, he took off the shawl, warm and fragrant with 1881, his cologne, and wrapped me in it.
A few things we’ve since learned along the way:
— Don’t be afraid to be yourself, even on your first few dates. I think some people are scared to get it wrong, and so they play it too safe, or try too hard to be…something. The right person will love you as you are. Before we met, during one of our phone conversations, he made me laugh so hard I snorted. Sexy! I thought for sure he’d cancel our first date. He loved it. Still does.
— Make an effort. I see a lot of guys these days dressed and groomed like they’re going to the gym when they’re heading out on a date. Seriously? The way we present ourselves sends powerful messages to people who don’t yet know much about us.
— As you get to know one another, see how s/he handles a disaster or two: the car breaks down, you get caught in a snowstorm, the kid and/or dog gets sick. How they handle stress and crisis will tell you a lot about whether you want them around long-term. When my mother was found to have a very large brain tumor (she’s fine), he didn’t hesitate to fly across the country with me to help sort out her house/dog/diagnosis. And because I was broke, he paid for it.
— Fights won’t necessarily kill a new/growing relationship. They might even save it. It took many years before Jose finally understood that just because we had a loud disagreement didn’t mean I hated him. It just meant I was really pissed off. We’re both stubborn as hell, so we were bound to disagree. I learned that he’s blessedly quick to forgive and won’t bail when things get heated.
— When you fight, look beneath the words. Every fight has an underlying driver, often unspoken, often not even well understood, like surtitles at the opera. There’s always a meta-fight behind what’s actually being said. Sometimes your emotional ghosts are really the target, not one another.
— Your relationships needs protection. It took many years before my father and Jose got along. Both are proud, prickly high achievers. Until my mother and I just gave up on one another last year, her neediness often drained us emotionally and financially. Sometimes distancing yourself from family is the wiser choice to nurture one another instead.
— Laugh long, loud and often. We speak a few times a day, even with his six daily meetings and our laughter heals a lot of stress. Knowing your partner is going to lighten your day means you’ll keep turning to them first.
— Hold hands often. Same for kissing. Jose and I smooch (discreetly) when I drop him off at the train station to head to work. The local cabbies waiting there, most of them fellow Hispanics, get a kick out of it.
— Say thank you often. Say please. Tidy up after yourself. Buy her flowers and him a gorgeous new shirt, or vice versa, for no apparent reason. Delight your sweetie whenever possible.
— Listen to them attentively. Turn off the TV, tech and other distractions. Look your sweetie in the eye. Give them the precious gift of your full and undivided attention. It’s so rare these days.
— Take good care of them. Bring an umbrella. Pick up their dry-cleaning. Drive them to the doctor’s office even if they say it’s OK not to. Make them lovely meals.
— Share values, not preferences. My first husband and I liked the same sorts of music, food, books. We loved to travel. On the surface, we looked like a good match. We weren’t. If you don’t share basic moral, spiritual and ethical values, (spending versus saving, a strong work ethic, loyalty to friends, whatever), your odds of long-term success aren’t great.
— Aretha Franklin sang it, baby. R-E-S-P-E-C-T! The day you stop seeing your spouse as someone worthy of respect, yours and others’, is the day your marriage is in trouble. Define what matters most to you and stick to it. Diana Vreeland, in her wonderful autobiography “DV”, said she always stood up a little straighter when her husband entered the room, even after decades together.
— Brag about them. We don’t have kids, so whatever family pride we share is in one another’s achievements and talents. Jose and I tend to be pretty modest, so I have to be the one (brag alert!) to tell people he has a Pulitzer and has photographed three Presidents. I’m flattered when he tells people nice things about me.
— Help them grow. Whenever I get wobbly and lose confidence and am scared to take a risk, Jose says, “Now is not the time to be Canadian!” His grandfather, who fled Mexico and started a chile powder company (still going) in Topeka, Kansas, was a tough old dude. “Pedro up, man!” I tell him.
— We’re always still three or five or fifteen, sometimes all on the same day. No matter your chronological age, our inner child still needs a hug, reassurance or the freedom to just play. Being a responsible adult all the time is exhausting!
— You will face sexual dry spells, sometimes for a lot longer than any magazine or media vision of marriage dares suggest. It’s normal for many people, but if you look at how sex is publicly portrayed/ discussed, you’d think we were all-rabbits-all-the-time. Nope! Injury, illness, surgery and recovery, depression, job loss, death of a loved one (let alone small kids!) and the Big M of menopause will all likely conspire to remove sexual intimacy from your life. Which is why affection, respect and paying attention in every other way will, ideally, steer you through those shoals.
— Reading wise self-help books, like this one, and a great, tough marriage therapist can really help. There were a few times we were really ready to give up. Marc, our marriage therapist, told us at our first meeting: “You each own 50 percent of any problem. If not, we’re not going to work well together.” He was really expensive, but paying so much for someone we liked and trusted sure focused our attention on getting on with it.
What’s keeping your love relationship or marriage in terrific shape?
“We bought a new house,” my older sister said a few months ago, in one of our rare phone conversations.
“I’m so happy for you,” I said, though I’m sure the octaves and intonation were off. “You deserve it.” And she does. My sister has worked tirelessly ever since I can remember. Unlike me, she’s always been responsible, never leaving a job before accepting another, and certainly never leaving a job and then, instead of finding new employment, flying to Southeast Asia and staying for three months.
“We’re finally going to live in a grown-up house,” she continued. (By “we” she meant her two girls, ages 4 and 7, and my photogenic, equally successful brother-in-law.)
I loved this piece because it unpacks what we sometimes feel but rarely say out loud: I’m jealous, dammit! I want your life(style)/income/husband/wife/house/country house/cottage/car(s)/job/body/wardrobe/kids.
I want to feel like I’ve made it!
And I don’t.
House-sitting for a friend was an eye-opening experience: a lovely, huge rear garden shaded by towering pines; a large swimming pool; multiple bedrooms; a home office; enormous closets; a washer and dryer unshared with others. I’ve never lived in a house with so many accoutrements.
She makes more money than I do, and I’m certain her husband significantly out-earns mine.
So, it’s comparing apples and oranges, right?
I’m hardly lazy, but I don’t work nights and weekends and really don’t want to, even if (which it could) it doubled my income. I take as much time off every year, and travel as far away, as I can afford.
I also chose the wrong industry for big wages — journalism — which pays, at the very top, in print, what 24-year-olds earn in their first year in corporate law or their Wall St. annual bonus. If you make it as a writer, you can make some very big bucks.
But if you don’t, you wonder what you did so wrong…
I avoided sibling rivalry by not having any, then, as the only child of my parents’ 13-year marriage. But I also have two younger half-brothers, one 10 years my junior, the other 23 years younger than I.
My 10-years-younger brother drives a very sexy shiny new car and owns a large house. He also lives in an airplane, traveling the world selling the arcane-but-popular software solution his company created.
Jealous? Moi? Well, yes, actually.
But my brother has a totally different skill set and works in a burgeoning field. He’s also been willing to risk his savings to build his business and has also won a ton of VC cash.
My much-younger brother also travels the world, doing policy work so sensitive he needs a security clearance from the American government.
My father’s partner, a woman I really like and admire, has super-accomplished adult kids a bit younger than I am. One is married to a gazillionaire and speaks fluent Chinese. Oy.
I like feeling I’m doing OK. But, by many conventional measures, I’m not. People my age own and run major corporations or universities. They boast about their kids and grandkids; we have neither. They look like grown-ups while I often feel (and am, happily, mistaken for) a decade or so younger.
So — which is it?
Life is cool? Life sucks?
It’s too easy to look at other lives and find the flaws in our own.
My 10-years-younger brother, when I was once — as I often do — flagellating myself for my relative lack of success, pointed out that my generation had a hell of a lot more competition for jobs and a lot worse economy within which to get one, or several.
It’s all relative…given that millions of people in this world survive on less than $1 a day in income. The challenge is to remember this, not to focus on the in(s)anity of the material wealth flaunted before our eyes, by friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, let alone the mass media.
Times are tough, and with growing income inequality — with American CEOs typically pulling in 475 timesthe pay of their least-paid workers — it’s getting even uglier.
Do you find yourself feeling envious of others’ success?
Do you compare yourself to more successful/settled siblings?
And yet, despite my loathing of turbulence, I live to travel.
This calendar year, so far, I’ve been to Victoria, Vancouver and Kamloops, B.C., Banff, Alberta, Toronto, D.C., Minneapolis, Peterborough (Ontario) and Chicago. In January I’ll be in Tucson and thereabouts for two weeks (while my husband teaches a photo workshop there), then go to New Orleans on the 25th to speak at a retailers’ conference.
Spoiled by years of international — i.e. off the North American continent — travel, I still have a huge jones to go somewhere, soon, they don’t speak English as a first language.
I’ve been, so far, to 37 countries, from Fiji to Turkey, Thailand to New Zealand. In 1982, I won an eight-month journalism fellowship that required (heaven!) funded solo travel on 10-day reporting trips all over Europe. I went to Denmark, England and Sicily and did an eight-day trip in a truck from Perpignan to Istanbul with a French trucker who spoke not a word of English.
Not only are they back, but hipster kids newly discovering the joys of a Smith Corona (not some obscure beer) or Olivetti (not an olive oil!) are even holding type-ins to celebrate these quaint, sturdy little writing machines, reports The New York Times:
“Can I touch it?” a young woman asked. Permission granted, she poked two buttons at once. The machine jammed. She recoiled as if it had bitten her.
“I’m in love with all of them,” said Louis Smith, 28, a lanky drummer from Williamsburg. Five minutes later, he had bought a dark blue 1968 Smith Corona Galaxie II for $150. “It’s about permanence, not being able to hit delete,” he explained. “You have to have some conviction in your thoughts. And that’s my whole philosophy of typewriters.”
Whether he knew it or not, Mr. Smith had joined a growing movement. Manual typewriters aren’t going gently into the good night of the digital era. The machines have been attracting fresh converts, many too young to be nostalgic for spooled ribbons, ink-smudged fingers and corrective fluid. And unlike the typists of yore, these folks aren’t clacking away in solitude.
They’re fetishizing old Underwoods, Smith Coronas and Remingtons, recognizing them as well designed, functional and beautiful machines, swapping them and showing them off to friends. At a series of events called “type-ins,” they’ve been gathering in bars and bookstores to flaunt a sort of post-digital style and gravitas, tapping out letters to send via snail mail and competing to see who can bang away the fastest.
As someone old enough to have begun her journalism career working on a typewriter, I remember well the joys and frustrations — fingers covered in Wite-out! No delete key! Physical cutting and pasting! — that went along with it.
My first typewriter was a lightweight correspondent’s model with its own vinyl shoulder carrying case, a Hermes Baby. My lifelong dream was to file from exotic locales and, for decades, this was the tool to use! I loved its turquoise letters and drop-proof metal casing. As long as I had the essentials — paper and a fresh ribbon — I could write anywhere, anytime, knowing, and feeling a cool sort of kinship with, all the others before me who had filed their dispatches in similar fashion.
The part I miss the most?
That delicious Ding! when you hit the end of a line.
Not to mention the delicious crunch-and-toss of every offending page that just wasn’t good enough.
I recently finished a three-week trip and my camera kept reminding me that its memory card was full, so — on the fly — I’d ruthlessly edit images I didn’t think worth keeping to capture a few more.
Memory is one of our most precious attributes.
One of my favorite films (and also my sweetie’s) is After Life, a Japanese film from 1998 about memory and how precious it is to us. The film’s premise is that, after you die, you will be forced to choose only one memory of all those you have accumulated. Which would you choose?
My mother was diagnosed this year with dementia, and I know it will likely worsen, so memory has become more of an obesssion with me. How much longer will she remember her life, her travels, her friends?
Her only child?
Here’s a new book, wildly and widely reviewed, about memory, “Moonwalking With Einstein” by Joshua Foer.
And what of hideous memories, the ones we so badly want to forget but which, so annoyingly, seem the hardest to get rid of? For me, these would include the night my husband walked out of our brief marriage, for good; the night my beloved red convertible was stolen; watching my Mom (who came out fine) heading into a six-hour neurosurgery…And our memories shift our perceptions, altering how we create and recall new ones.
I stayed on this trip at a resort hotel whose motto is that they create memories, an interesting idea. I brought home several from that trip, perhaps the most indelible being a dog-sledding expedition of about 90 minutes that took us along a tree-lined trail, across a barren, wind-swept frozen lake, alongside a river whose waters were so clear and blue we could see all the way to the bottom.
The dogs kept looking back at us as if to make sure we were still there. Wind clawed at my cheeks so viciously I feared imminent frostbite. A winter sky was as white and impenetrable as the snow on the Rocky Mountains around us.
The London School of Economics has started a new study to link happiness to physical location, time of day and other factors.
If it’s Tuesday, they’ve discovered, people are least happy — and at 8:00 p.m. Saturday night, they’re feeling their best.
Another new study says six things make most people happy:
It turns out that you can be happy — without worrying — as long as you get enough sleep, spend quality time with your family and get home from work at a decent hour.
According to a new study, it’s the simple things in life that make us content: home-cooked meals, trips abroad, a night out once in a while. As for money, well, The Beatles said it “can’t buy me love,” and it doesn’t seem to do much for happiness, either.
On the list citing the keys to contentment, cash didn’t even make the cut.
Experts doing a study for Yeo Valley, a British dairy company, quizzed 4,000 adults on their lifestyles and asked them to rate their happiness on a scale of 1 to 5 — 5 being perpetually happy exercise guru Richard Simmons and 1 being Oscar the Grouch. The result was a formula that includes one night out a week with a partner or friends and a 20-minute commute to work.
According to the study, happy people have four alcoholic drinks a week. They also eat four portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Here are some of the things guaranteed to leave me grinning, no matter what the day:
Road trip! It can be almost anywhere
Travel, preferably overseas. Preferably Paris or Corsica. OK, anywhere in France! Using my passport makes me really happy
Hanging out with a dear friend over a great meal (or cold beer)
Cold beer — Hoegaarden, Blue Moon, Grolsch, St. Ambroise, Griffon…
An authoritative G & T made with original recipe Tanqueray
A very good pedicure
Scoring a treasure at a flea market or antique show
Watching the red hawks soaring over our balcony
Setting a pretty table and serving dinner to friends
Getting a book finished and into production
Patting a friendly dog
Looking at gorgeous art and well-made objects in a museum or gallery
Hitting to the outfield
A cuddle with the sweetie
A very ripe peach, mango or strawberry
The smells of dried, sun-warmed pine needles, Oeillet-Mignardise or Hesperides soap; horse; ocean; leather; “First” perfume; old stone
The sounds of a halyard clanging against a sailboat mast; water lapping against rocks; wind in the trees; laughter