Saturday, May 5th, 2012
I got a nice, impressionistic photo in the course of this morning's bike ride (up to West Orange, down to Millburn, up through the Reservation and meet Ellen on top of South Mountain) -- a street light on South Orange Ave. under the cloudy sky.
Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
Happy Birthday, Ellen!We rode our beribboned bikes around South Orange and then came back home for a picnic dinner in the back yard.
Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
Last week, Sylvia finished up a bicycle repair class she's been taking at summer camp. Today, Tom Reingold, who taught the class, invited her over for a lesson in wheel-truing -- the last step to getting her new bike ridable. It is a blue Jamis Ranger of recent vintage which Tom found in his ramblings in need of lubrication and tuning-up, and a new seat. And it's all done! Sylvia took her first ride on it this evening.
I'm impressed -- I must have been 14 or 15 before I did a full tune-up on a bike. Click through for more pictures of the bike repair.
Sunday, July 17th, 2011
Midway along last week's ride up to Eagle Rock, I had the thought that this would be a fun way to ride to Montclair, riding up Eagle Rock Ave. to Mountain Ave. and then down Bloomfield. (I normally ride through Orange, along the west side of Rosendale Cemetery, which is a nice ride of about 6 miles with not a lot of hills.) When Ellen said yesterday morning that she wanted to go over to the Montclair farmer's market and get some vegetables for dinner, my ears perked up... I ended up taking the Mountain Ave. route there and riding home through the valley with a bunch of veggies and some sausage and some bread on my back, about a 14-mile round trip. (Got mildly "lost" or off-course only twice, pretty good for Montclair -- I find the street layout there to be among the most confusing anywhere.)
This is the first time this summer I had been to the Montclair market, and I always forget how great it is, a bit more fun and lively than any of the other local farmer's markets (which are to be sure all organized by the same group and have many vendors in common) -- just something about the layout of this particular market and the vibe... Lunch today and yesterday was just tomatoes and bread, both bought from Vacchiano Farms -- the tomatoes in particular are the first good tomatoes I've had this season. My impulse is to say that they are the tastiest thing I have ever put in my mouth -- I think overstatement is a natural impulse when it comes to the first good tomatoes of the season. Suffice to say, they are spectacularly good tomatoes. Dinner yesterday was grilled eggplant and sausages, also from Vacchiano; their brocolli rabe sweet pork sausage is very nice on the grill. Dinner tonight will be summer squash and green beans; I am thinking now that I will make a curry with them.
Sunday, July 10th, 2011
Still thinking about Cuadra, about the teacher and his teachings,
Until 2001 that skyline peaked at two glass towers --
I met up with local cyclists for our Sunday morning ride.
We rode today through glorious weather up to Thomas Edison’s
Old factory in West Orange, to see the rusty old machinery,
The evidence that a genius once called our small hamlet home.
But I didn’t take the tour, still felt like riding, so I split off
From the group and rode up Eagle Rock into the reservation.
It’s a long, slow climb, fantastic when
You get up to the top and see
The valley spread before you,
Tops of trees like ocean waves and
White rooftops like breakers stretching out
Through Hudson County, in the distance see the
Skyline of Manhattan silhouetted in the yellow haze.
Here the county’s built a shrine to the thousands dead who fell that day;
I walked along the path and looked across into the past, remembered
That September morning a decade past, and all the time gone by since then.
This is a different Eagle Rock, no maestro sat here telling riddles;
It’s got its own long history, its meanings and its influence.
I rode back down to meet the group, the wind was blowing past me hard,
It blew away deep memories that had bubbled to the surface,
Cleared away my thoughts of ages past,
My darkening meditations
And the sunshine of this summer morning
Calmed that frothing turbulence --
Rode back home with the group, and now a quiet afternoon.
Saturday, July second, 2011
A year or so ago, I was talking with Woody about interesting things to see in West Orange -- he told me how one time he had been walking up Valley to Northfield and had taken a meandering route... Eventually he found himself on "one of those dead-end streets behind Northfield" and had found a secret canyon, with a pedestrian bridge linking dead-end streets on either side of it. Ever since then I've been interested to find this place, and today (I'm pretty sure) I did.
The canyon I found doesn't precisely meet Woody's description -- it looks like there has been some construction in the intervening years. Riding up Northfield past Seton Hall (a long slog of an uphill, but not steep enough to make me give up midway along), there are two streets to the left marked "Dead End", Carter Rd. and Beverly Rd. I road up the hill and then back down, and turned right on Beverly -- Turns out it is no longer a Dead End as the road has been looped around to connect it to Carter. (This must be a fairly recent development, Google Maps at least still thinks both streets dead-end.) Right where it loops around, there is the canyon Woody was talking about. No pedestrian bridge anymore, the loop crosses over the canyon and the stream is in a culvert there -- very pretty waterfall where it pours out of the culvert, I tried to get a photo but the maple tree in front of me had its own ideas... There is still no connection to the south -- the dead-end street south of the canyon, also called Beverly, is a private street and gated off.
Sunday, June 26th, 2011
This weekend's SOMbike ride was a tour of the proposed greenway along the east branch of the Rahway River, through Maplewood, South Orange, Orange and West Orange. Cami Zelevansky, who is working with the Greenway committee in Maplewood, led the way on the first half of the ride, showing us where the path would be laid, what changes needed to be made and where there are still decisions to be made -- the greenway is still a good ways from being even conceptually complete. The main piece of news I learned on this portion of the ride is that the old pump house south of 3rd Street has been condemned -- tragic! It is one of the most beautiful structures in our town. Cami told us the structure is contaminated with toxic chemicals and would be infeasibly expensive to renovate.
The old Boyd Hat Company factory
The ride through Orange and West Orange was led by Patrick Morrissey, executive director of HANDS, Inc. and proprietor of Hat City Kitchen. He showed us around the old hat manufacturing district in the valley, we saw some gorgeous old factories and warehouses that HANDS is redeveloping into mixed-use condominiums and business and art space, and some that have been condemned; we looked at the art spaces that have already been developed as part of the Valley Arts District; we saw the east fork of the east branch of the Rahway, a river fork I had not known about -- it is mostly underground in culverts but the narrow channel where it is at the surface, behind the old Monroe Calculator Company factory, is a lovely hidden bit of wilderness rising up in the middle of the city. We ended up at Hat City Kitchen, where Pat treated us to a beer, and then rode on home.
A nice ride, not particularly challenging but with lots to see and learn. I was not looking for challenge as I had worn myself out earlier in the day making another attempt on Walker Street -- nearly made it to the top this time!
Sunday, June 19th, 2011
Someone must know Brooklyn, all of Brooklyn, that’s what I was thinking
Riding past the sidestreets that line Red Hook, names I’ve never heard
Like Visitation Pl. and Wolcott, Coffey St., evocative,
Some modern-day Walt Whitman must have walked down all these paths, must know
The neighborhoods from Red Hook out to Sunset Park and Sheepshead Bay,
Canarsie, know the subway stops in Midwood, where to grab a bite
In East New York -- for all the time I lived here, my familiar steps
Are clustered in a narrow strip around Flatbush, long thin fingers running
South down Seventh Avenue and west along Atlantic, when
I think of Brooklyn what I see’s a small part of the borough, pictures
Culled from my meanderings through Park Slope (mostly),
Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill. Today, we rode
Our bikes out to Ikea, it was great to see the borough through
New eyes, see corners foreign to my memories, my expectations,
Corners where a million dreams have played out, dreams of glory,
Where the docks begin, where underneath the pavement are the cobblestones
(They’re coming through in places, makes for shaky riding) -- stones
With memories of wartime and of labor struggles old and new, of
Love affairs between the street lamps, lovers whom I’ll never know,
I’ll never know the neighborhoods I’ve never been to, riding
Down the street here, through the crazy sunlight, colors catch my eye. The sun
Shines on a fading shipper’s sign, a sign down by the waterfront,
Old industry is everywhere, these piers, these cranes, these factories,
These crumbling bricks were witness to the unnarrated histories --
A million rises, unmourned falls (a bright red arrow points the way
To Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies, we ride down there and walk the pier,
Trade looks and salutations with the rows of solemn fishermen) --
This new Red Hook’s delectable, a feast of light, we’re riding back now,
Savoring the wind that blows at angles off the waterfront
And thinking thoughts of driving back to Jersey and the week to come.
We hit Atlantic, now I’m back, the Brooklyn that I know and love,
Stop by Damascus Bakery and buy some bread for lunches
For the week, and every place I set my foot rings through familiar;
What new Whitman will I find to map this borough’s soul for me?
Eileen, Ellen and Rick
air-fishing on Valentino Pier.
Lady Liberty looks on.
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
The past few days I rode my bike up Walker in West Orange,
There's a hill there up the east side of South Mountain, behind Northfield,
That I've always dreamt of climbing, never done it yet but soon I will,
It's steep, it curves in switchbacks, steep as Lombard Street in Frisco
(which I've never pedaled up, God knows, but maybe if I lived there --)
There's the slope up to Wyoming, which I've ridden many times --
It's a hard slope, tires me out, but I know that I can do it --
Then you ride across Wyoming and it gets a good deal steeper,
That's the hill that always kills me, I can only make it halfway up.
Last night I rode up Luddington, a tiny street, one-way,
Where the slope's a bit more gradual, you're riding transverse up the hill;
I made it up to Lowell Street, as far up as I've ever gone,
But there you have to turn and pedal straight up or straight down.
I took the downhill route -- my legs were just about maxed out,
And there was still another couple hundred feed of climb to go --
So I flew on down the mountain, rushing air around me cooled me down;
I'll take another try tonight and see how far I go.
Riding up a hill's a simple calculus, no need for subtle
Reckoning: your lowest gear, you push, you pump, keep pedaling,
Your cadence slowing down until your legs are scarcely moving,
Maybe you can push yourself along another couple meters;
Then you'll stop, you'll turn around, you'll glide downhill -- exhilarating!
And you get back to the bottom, and you wonder, should you take
Another pass? But no: you head home, drink a beer, you'll try again...
Tomorrow -- Ah, and when you reach the crest, what sense of mastery --
So move on to a steeper mountain, start it all again.
Sunday, June 12th, 2011
New businesses are opening in Vailsburg, Newark's western spur,
Marie and Ryan greet us and we look around -- Folk Engineered’s
The sign on Sweeney's closed-down Liquors says a Subway's coming soon.
Improvement? Well perhaps, but anyways not detriment, besides
It’s good to see the signs of any economic life.
We’re riding bikes through Vailsburg, a group of us from west of here,
To see Marie and Ryan’s shop in Lincoln Park in Newark --
We’re waiting for some slower riders, an older man in slacks and straw hat
Chats with us about riding, about the 5-borough tour, he rides it yearly,
About his bike, a Trek (my model!), it's
“An old-school Trek,” he says, we chuckle.
Now the light turns green, we’re off, we ride due east, South Orange Ave.
til it hits Springfield, downtown Newark and we’re nearly there,
We cut a little south on University and find their place
A few blocks down the way, on Crawford over by the school.
Their company, builds custom bikes, with steel frame for classic look
And high performance, also something new, this year we see,
They’re putting out their first stock model bike, looks great, looks sweet.
Marsupial they’re calling it (still built to order), sleek clean lines --
It looks like an old Schwinn at half the weight.
They show us around the shop and walk us through the steps
Of building a steel frame, the measuring, the milling,
Ryan brazes lugs in for a water-bottle holder and we
Ooh and aah to see his reconditioned old machine tools
And the stately, austere frame that’s standing ready in a vise.
A lovely couple, they infect the whole group with their brio
And they serve us tasty crudités and cookies, fresh-baked,
Ryan’s cool iced-tea, we eat and chat and then we’re ready to head home.
On the way back I break from the group to get home a bit faster,
Sky is clouding up, the rain will come down soon, I think as I look up.
I always feel a little twinge as I ride by South Eleventh Street,
Where Brother’s BBQ was, my old favorite, it’s been closed for years.
I get back to South Orange, sweat is pouring off me,
Coast my way down Montrose in the cloudy twilight, here I am, back home.
So I’ll write up this whole journey as a verse and post it on my blog --
A verse? I’ve never done this -- but it fits to some rough meter,
So let’s get it out there, click on "Publish," see what people think.
Click through for more photos of the shop.
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