Saturday, March 21, 2009

Along the Osborne Loop

The hike from Garrison on the east bank of the Hudson River over to Sugarloaf, around the Osborne Loop, and back is a great half-day ramble. Part of the fun is the blend of nature and culture, from Hudson River views to old mansions--and these chairs set by a trail-side pond

I waked the route last week, starting from the Garrison railroad station, and it took me about 3 1/2 hours, including a stop for lunch. The beginning and end of the trip have some good views of the Hudson, but once you get onto the Loop itself it is mostly easy forest walking.

I don't know anything about the origins of these chairs, but my hunch is that they were made by a trail maintainer who put to use his or her skills with a chainsaw. If that's the case, they remind me of something I heard the folklorist Henry Glassie set forth years ago: art is what happens when we move beyond utilitarian labor and get to take pleasure in our work.

The woods were open and bare last week, just shy of springtime buds and blossoms. The ponds still had some ice on them, and a few icicles clung to shaded rock faces. They'll be gone soon, if not already. I'm looking forward to getting back to the Osborne Loop and these chairs on a warm summer day, when I can sit in one of them and enjoy the shady trees and this little pond.

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