Always constant, ever changing..

I’ve recently spent a lot of time touring the canal on my bike and on foot. The same thought strikes me every time, I’d love to describe this, but how?

It’s impossible for me to focus on one aspect of the waterway. Do I start with the fact that I first thought the trail that runs along beside it was called a toepath and not a towpath? Or do I talk about the way it’s changed since I first moved here?

In the beginning the water barely covered the bottom, and the wildlife struggled to stay alive. Today it’s filled to the brim, and the geese protect their young and police the path with a ferocity that would make a lion step aside. I always pause as they guide their fuzzy young ones across the path and into the water.  

Do I mention that there are a million colors of green? Well ok, maybe not a million, but have you ever stopped to notice just how many shades there are? Especially when the sun drops low in the sky and illuminates the leaves from behind.

Do I try to describe how the seasons change? How the daffodils fade and the wildflowers flourish as spring wilts into summer. How the shades of green turn brown along the path, but explode in a fire of color above as summer fades into fall. How the snow blankets the dusty brown earth and crunches under my feet as I run in the winter, the air so still that you wonder if you’re really all alone in the world. How the path awakens as the snow melts and spring arrives.

Is it the people I watch along the way? The quiet communication and camaraderie between runners and cyclists, greetings exchanged with a silent nod or a barely perceptible wave. The whir and plop of a casting lesson, an excuse for young lovers to touch, an opportunity for a father to bond. I don’t know that I’ll ever understand why they’re fishing there, the brown and murky water cannot possibly be the home of an edible fish.

The canal is ever constant, and always changing.

Outside of winter, even the time of day makes a difference. The mornings reserved and quiet, the afternoons brimming with activity. It’s as though the canal slowly wakes up throughout the day. By the time evening comes, it’s ready to handle everyone. It welcomes the runners and walkers, the cyclists and strollers. The path embraces couples who have been together forever and parents strolling with their young children laughing and running ahead, but never out of sight.

Along this path, I run and I ride. I’ve rejoiced, and I’ve cried.

How do I describe something that is ever constant, but always changing?

The Delaware Canal

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Wow! That Was ‘Eye Popping 3d’!

When I moved from Nebraska to the east coast, I knew there would be differences and similarities.  It’s been fun to venture out and experience things that are common to many, but unique within their context.

Last night our mission was dinner and fireworks.

I’ve never been much of a fireworks fan, I mostly find them loud and scary unless I’m far away and just watching the light show explode in the sky.

My kids on the other hand have always enjoyed the heat and energy that go with the very same noises that make me want to cover my ears.

They’ve missed the tradition of lighting bottle rockets, sparklers, and the assortment of explosives carefully selected for the one night  of the year that they were allowed to ‘play with fire’.

After dinner we ventured to New Hope, a town that is difficult to describe.  If you’ve ever vacationed in Northern Minnesota, you might describe it as ‘Dorset on steroids’ (that would be on mega steroids!).  I’ll have to find a way to describe it someday, but for now the focus is the fireworks show.

We found a spot on the bridge that spanned the river connecting New Hope, PA and Lambertville, NJ.  I don’t know that I’ll ever grow accustomed to the harshness of the north-eastern accents.  The language is the same, but somehow foreign at the same time.

A mediocre sound system pumped old rock and roll into the evening air.  Next to the sound system, there was a small boy perched on the base of a statue.  He was protected from the bugs and the evening chill, his small body almost swallowed by the hooded jacket he wore.

His dad handed him a sparkler.  His arm was stick straight and unwavering.  We watched as the sparkles flickered in one direction toward his hand as it burned out.  It didn’t last long, it was almost as though the sparkler wasn’t having any fun and wanted to end it quickly.  Another one found its way to the boy’s hand, and this time there was movement.  Small circles, the sparks flew a little further into the air.

I couldn’t see his face, but I could imagine how his eyes lit up as he realized that he had the power to make diamonds fly.

The fireworks began with a countdown from 10, led by a local long time resident.

The crowd of strangers consisted of small groups of family and friends became one voice as we shouted each number in descending sequence.

I had to chuckle.  After everyone shouted ONE, there was total silence.  Everyone knows 3, 2, 1 BLASTOFF!  or ready, set GO!

But what do you shout at the end of 10, 9, 8……1!!!???

The leader of the countdown jumped in after a few seconds and shouted BOOM!

Squeals of delight filled the air as children and adults reveled in the light show that was launched from the pontoon deck parked on the river beneath us.  The play by play commentary of the young boys beside me said it all.

Their observations accentuated over and over with the phrase, “wow!  It’s almost like ‘eye popping 3D’!”

I think it was ‘eye popping 3D.’