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July 01, 2015
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View From the Train

For the love of trains

The conductor wakes us with some of the usual news. “We need to travel at reduced speed due to signal problems. We are going to be late folks. Sorry!” Next we hear the collective moans of the passengers, some of whom are quick to text the office that they will be late, again. “Remember NJ Transit only guarantees same day service,” says the conductor, hoping to lighten the moment. It’s a beautiful spring morning, flowers and trees are in full bloom, no rain, no snow, none of the usual suspects for delays. Yet here we are late again. The consolation is another 20 minutes of shut-eye.  Read more

Rosa’s tails

Rosa let go of her mamma’s hand and ran for the rail of the ship. It was a beautiful crisp day; big fluffy white clouds floated over the harbor. The pigtails of her long brown hair swung back and forth as she ran holding on to her straw hat so it didn’t blow off in the breeze, as it has done many times on this voyage. The painted flowers on her dress moved as if they were in an open field in early spring, just dancing in the wind. Rosa reached the rail, grabbed it with both hands, pulled herself up on her toes for a better look and let out a shriek joy.  Read more

The ‘hump and jump’

As a young fisherman I can remember the great fishing trips to the Ramapo River just outside the town of Tuxedo. The crystal-clear waters were so clean back then we would swim there in the summer and collect fresh water crawfish from the river bottom. We kids from Brooklyn considered ourselves a brave bunch, and would scale through the cliffs of the upper falls to one of our favorite fishing spots. At the end of the day we would scale the cliff back to the trail and cross the NJ Transit tracks to get back to our car. Great leaps between the rocks were just part of the adventure.  Read more

Dancing snow devils

Pausing as I step out of the front door, looking up through the barren trees, the cerulean blue of the morning sky peeks at me. The word “cerulean” is derived from the Latin caelum, meaning heaven. Upon crisp mornings like this, it is heaven I am viewing for sure. The long, harsh winter is slowly losing its grip on us. Patches of the promise of spring can be seen through the snow as the earth awakens from its slumber. There is no doubt that the spring in my morning step these days is due to the earlier dawning of the morning light.  Read more

Be prepared

The Boy Scouts of America celebrated their 105th anniversary this past February 8. As an Eagle Scout and the father of an Eagle Scout, I embrace many of the teachings of the Scouts, especially its motto: “Be Prepared!” These two simple words have always stuck with me and have helped me in many ways to always have Plan B in the back of my head, just in case things don’t go as planned—which often they don’t.  Read more

If you have nothing nice to say…

I notice the tip jar on the counter of a deli where I get my coffee before I head into the office and most days just give it a glance and walk away. Today I stopped, looked at the girl behind the counter and said, “exactly what do you expect a tip for?” To my surprise she had a lengthy answer; obviously I wasn’t the first to query this. “Well it’s for things like saying good morning, giving you a napkin, making sure your change is correct and wishing you a nice day.” Then came the most sincere smile I ever saw; she was looking me right in the eyes.  Read more

The space ship

One of the nice things about riding the train is the diversity of people you meet as you travel. The Upper Delaware is a resort destination and the weekend home to many who come from the city for an escape. We are still home to many of the traditional ethnic diversities that made the Borsht Belt famous in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Over the decades, new ethnic groups have added their particular flavor and flair to our area.  Read more

Things that go bump in the night

We set the clocks back this time of year, thrusting us back into the darkness of the morning. My morning has me out of the house before 5 a.m. each day. There is a different world outside my door at that hour, an eerie world of wildlife with night vision. Sometimes, I cringe when I hear the crunch of the leaves, not knowing what creature is out there in the dark. Sometimes, at the edge of the property, it’s just a pair of glowing eyes staring at me; or there are the screeches, howls and other things going on in the dark.  Read more

‘My dog ate my homework’ And other excuses

Fall brings the changing of the foliage to the Upper Delaware Valley. Along with the falling leaves come the “slippery rail” excuse for train delays. It seems, according to New Jersey Transit (NJT), a locomotive hauling seven train cars filled with passengers, can have issues with traction because of leaves falling on the rails. The condition is so serious that trains run at reduced speeds during this time of the year to gain traction on the rail. I asked a seasoned conductor if a train ever derailed because of this “slippery rail” condition. He said “Are you kidding?  Read more

Never too old to just listen to the music

During the last train ride up from the city together with my son, he commented, “I don’t know how you do this trip.” I tend to agree with him with the exception of what lies at the end of the ride besides my home and my hammock, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the premier concert venue in the northeast. You see, I live a short 20-minute ride from there, and I love live music. Growing up in Brooklyn, there were many venues for concerts, yet I never had the money to go, or all I could afford was the “nosebleed” section.  Read more