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.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Riverside Park

Yesterday, we went for a walk in Riverside Park. The weather was sunny and warm (at least, 40-something feels warm now), so the park was rather soggy. While only shriveled, blackened scraps of snow remain on the sidewalks, no one shovels park lawns, which means a lot more snow remained on the ground. Even the paved pathways were covered in puddles.

The polar vortex continues its mood swings, though: Tuesday is supposed to be nearly 60, while Thursday will reach a high of 28 with snow.

But what I am really looking forward to is Wednesday, with its 100% chance of rain. No, really. Even once the last snow melts, the sidewalks will be littered with debris and salt. A good rain will do wonders.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Harriman Waters hike

Stony Brook by TheTurducken
Stony Brook, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
Now, normally at this time of year, the hikes around here wouldn't be deep in snow. Up in the mountains, sure, but in the NYC environs?

Thanks to the polar vortex, this weekend's Ramblers hike in Harriman State Park (just north of the Jersey border) was, as you can see, a true winter hike. We hiked 11 miles up and down hills, including across frozen Lake Sebago. The trails themselves were crusted over with snow, trampled down in places, and slippery pretty much all over.

The hike started at Sloatsburg, headed east into the park along Stony Brook to Lake Sebago, and then west out to Tuxedo. None of the hills were killer, although I don't know our final elevation gain, which was a relief, as I was wearing snow boots only; I really need a pair of micro-spikes.

Harriman is, in my opinion, kind of pretty but nothing spectacular. I actually liked it better under snow. The views were better without leaf cover, and the snow provided a nice contrast. Also, the trail along the stream was quite nice.

Of course, I suspect that in a week or two, Harriman trails will turn into a slushy, muddy mess as the weather warms up. That may be wishful thinking on my part; at moments, I believe it will never be warm again.