A mom and her six-year-old embark on their first day walking 1.3 miles to get to summer camp.
For this last week of summer we need to catch the 8:30 train to travel one town over. We will hike the Arden’s Point trail to Marcia’s Mile which leads us directly to the Philipstown Recreation Center Day Camp. We woke late, so I had to hustle to make lunches and get out of the house on time. In our no-car life we rely on the commuter trains. When you have a car, you can leave your house late and drive really fast so that you still arrive at camp on time. Or you can just arrive late, no big deal. Not so with trains.
We had to keep a good pace for the ten minute walk to our train station. Lenny complained a bit, so I took his backpack so he could run to keep up. If we position ourselves in the first car of the train we can usually escape paying for the 5-minute ride, because it’s a busy commuter train and they don’t check tickets at each station. We disembarked at Garrison and took a quick walk across the parking lot to the trail head.
It was shady and cool this morning, a departure from the 97+ (feels like 112°) heatwave that has kept us nearly housebound for the past two days. I was relieved. Lenny wanted to walk slowly. I doubled up the backpacks, piling his on top of mine on my back, and we started our walk.
At first Lenny complained, “I hate this path, it has too many rocks,” he said. “There are a million spider webs getting in my face.”
I took the lead so that my body would cut through the invisible threads across our path, clearing the way. We had not accounted for the mosquitoes. It was pretty buggy and we both said that tomorrow we need to remember bug spray. Once we accepted the minimal amount of suffering we would have to endure, Lenny grabbed my hand and started talking. We had a great conversation about nature, his friends, starting school in a few weeks, our upcoming vacation in Florida. We had twenty leisurely minutes to enjoy each other’s company, without phones or anyone to distract us.
When we arrived at camp, I told Lenny that it makes me so happy to spend my morning walking and talking with him. He surprised me when he said, “mom, you’re always happy.”
On many of our car-less commutes, Lenny initially complains. He finds the small thing that could make the journey unpleasant—like a rocky path. I let him know that I heard him, but we don’t have another option, really, so we have to figure out how to make the best of it. I try to shift the focus away from the complaint; instead reflecting on my pleasure spending time with my kid. He usually follows my lead.
I can think of a dozen things to complain about when riding in the car: like all the traffic, we can’t go as fast as I want, there is nothing good on the radio, that truck just cut me off, the crumbs in the middle console are gross, I can’t check my messages while I am driving. Yet for over 30 years I still drove.
The return trip to the train station was a bit tight, I had to walk fast to catch the 9:30am train that would take me the rest of the way toGrand Central in NYC, my three-day-a week commute. This journey was not quite as pleasant; my flip-flops proving not ideal for the speed I needed. I was a just stepped out of the shower drippy mess when I hit the platform. I could not have looked more forward to the air conditioning on that train.
I am a 50-year-old mom with two kids (ages 7 and 24), a husband who works in our attic, a sneezy old cat, and a full-time job as the co-founder of a Brooklyn-based business. My family lives a mostly idyllic life in a small village in the Hudson Valley, sixty miles north of New York City.
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