Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ramble through New Jersey

Today's hike with the Ramblers was in New Jersey, starting in Montclair and ending in Summit. About half of the 16 miles were roadwalking and half were hiking.

Much of the scenery was more gently pretty than whomp-you-over-the-head (although Hemlock Falls is nice), but it was exciting to see that spring is finally here. The day was warm - in the 70s - and we saw the first wildflowers.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Trail crew is back

Spring is finally arriving, and this weekend the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park trail crew started up again. I spent several hours Saturday uprooting invasive wineberry. This is a good time of year to do it, since the plants don't have any leaves yet. It's easy to spot the wineberry, which is a relative of the raspberry from Asia. Like kudzu, it was brought over to be ornamental, but it grew out of control.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Forever Wild

For the birds by TheTurducken
For the birds, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
I took a short walk in Riverside Park on Friday. I hadn't walked through the Forever Wild area, which is a bird sanctuary with dirt trails, in a while. It was very nice to see that several downed trees that effectively blocked the trail had been removed. A few trees remained, but they were easy to navigate over or under.

Near the north end of the sanctuary, there was clear evidence of camping - increased litter, trash bags, many small trails, and a guide rope up the hill to the sidewalk. Riverside Park used to have a significant homeless community. While it has been mostly gentrified, apparently the effort hasn't been completely successful.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


The word came down today that both Clarion and Clarion West had rejected me. However, as I have a pretty good idea of their notification schedules, today's rejection by CW was no surprise.

I was surprised to be completely rejected by both workshops. To be clear, I didn't expect them both to accept me - I didn't even expect one to accept me. I wasn't convinced my unheralded genius would bring the readers to their knees! But for those of you not familiar with the workshops, each has three possible responses: yes, no, and almost. Clarion gives you an "almost" by putting you on their waitlist, and CW does it by rejecting you with a more encouraging letter. Both gave me the plain no this year.

To the extent I was surprised, it was because when I applied for Clarion previously, they waitlisted me. As my writing has gotten better since then, I didn't expect a lesser outcome. I could say, "Oh, I don't know why they rejected me," but that's not true; I was rejected because at least 36 other applicants submitted better stories than I did. There is no mystery or conspiracy there.

As I said, by today it was no surprise, so it was a relief in some ways. I could go back to planning my summer trip to Colorado (which couldn't have happened if I'd been accepted) and my hiking trips to the Catskills. I took the chunk of money I'd been saving and lobbed it at my credit card debt. And, yes, I put in today's minutes toward my current story.

The thing is, I'm still discovering what needs to be fixed in my writing. As I continue to uncover problems and work towards solving them, my writing is getting stronger. It'll improve this summer whether I'm at a workshop or here. And maybe that's the best explanation for why I wasn't accepted. If my writing is still in a state where I can diagnose and treat its ailments, I don't really need Clarion yet, and I couldn't get the most out of it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring is trying to come

Hudson River by TheTurducken
Hudson River, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
March's weather so far has been swinging from the 20s to the 50s and back again. Yesterday was one of the nice days, so I took a walk down through Riverside Park. Here, the sun shines on the Hudson River.