September 23, 2010

Harvest Moon, Crab Meadow Sun

Happy Autumnal Equinox! I hope you got a chance to look at the Harvest Moon. Since looking at that beautiful, glowing orb this morning, I've had vaudeville-era lyrics on my mind all day:

Oh, Shine on, shine on, harvest moon/Up in the sky/I ain't had no lovin'/Since April, January, June or July/Snow time ain't no time to stay/Outdoors and spoon/So shine on, shine on, harvest moon/For me and my gal.

(Interestingly, about 15 years ago, I went into the recording studio to do a hard rock version of "Shine On, Harvest Moon." I have no idea where those recordings are; I haven't seen or heard them in ages, which is probably for the best. LOL.)

Well, I have to say that the first day of Fall felt like an ideal Summer day--80 degrees, clear blue skies, sunny with no humidity. I'm glad that the nice weather is going to hang on for a little while longer; it gives me the chance to do some last minute outdoor exploring.

There is a place that I pass every day on my way to work that I have been meaning to check out for a long time. It's called Caleb Smith State Park. Its brown sign would beckon to me every morning and the long stretch of wilderness along Jericho Turnpike only increased my curiosity. With today being such a glorious day, I decided to pay it a visit.

As I pulled through the gates and approached the guard booth, a girl in a park ranger outfit came out to greet me. I asked her what was inside and she told me that they have a pond where one can go flyfishing, an ecology museum, and several hiking trails. She went on to tell me that entrance was free with my Empire State Beach Sticker. I was quickly parked and walking...

The first thing that I came to as I entered the park was the North Willow Pond. It is a man-made pond that was built in 1795 through the damming of the Whitman Stream. I learned that the pond served as a source of power for the North Willow Pond Mill, as it was known in those days. The water sparkled in the afternoon sun as the forest's reflections danced on the surface.

Next, I came to the Caleb Smith House. The building was originally built as a two-story farmhouse in 1751. Today, it houses the park's museum, standing proud amid its wooded surroundings.

Inside, I followed a path of ladybugs through an ecological learning center, passing displays of habitats and woodland creatures.

In the museum's Arts & Crafts Room, I encountered two children who agreed to give me an impromptu puppet show. I couldn't quite follow the plot, but their performance made me smile none the less. Ah, so innocent and refreshing... :)

I proceeded to take to the woods. I can happily say that Caleb Smith State Park's system of nature trails is perhaps the best that I've ever hiked. Usually when I go hiking, my internal compass lets me keep my bearings, but such was not the case here. The paths run deep into the forest, crossing over each other, and veering off on to great scenic excursions. It was the first time that I have ever gotten completely lost in a nature preserve. At one point, I had a Blair Witch moment--after hiking straight on one trail for nearly an hour, I passing the same spot in the woods two times. I also didn't come across any other people the whole time I was out there. It was a little bit spooky, but cool and fun! Great experience!
With a little bit of daylight still remaining, I decided to head over to Crab Meadow Beach to watch the sunset. It was wonderful to feel the warm sand between my toes again, to see the seagulls in flight and to hear the gentle caress of the waves against the coast. I enjoyed the haphazard beauty of the shells and chunks of driftwood that littered the shoreline. I was feeling so serene. There's nothing quite like a walk on the beach as the sun begins to set; strolling along the water's edge and dipping one's feet into the sea, always invigorating! Something about that feeling for me is an immediate reminder of carefree days, of beautiful moments and warm memories.

Beautiful day! It started with the Harvest Moon and ended with a sunset on the beach. Wonderful...

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true,
whatever things are noble, whatever things are just,
whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely,
whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue
and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me,
these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

~Philippians 4:8-9