[This is part 2 of a story which started rising]

Old mountain-climbing habits prevent me from lingering too long at the summit, so despite the modesty of Bull Hill, I started down shortly after reaching the top. My knees never like the descent. I miss the days when I could hop from rock to rock like a mountain goat. I have become a mountain turtle. Slowly but surely.


I stopped for a moment to take pictures of an insect which had been on the same rock all afternoon. The little guy was obviously not going anywhere today. My cat calls these green cicadas and thinks they are delicious.

Finding a small pond, I patiently scouted for salamanders, but as a pure-white uniform wearing police officer had carefully written down in his report after I explained my unsuccessful search for a guest’s passport lost at the small Caribbean airport of Hewanorra in Saint Lucia years ago, it was futile. I swear he had stuck his tongue out as he rounded the dot on the i. But I digress.

It’s a vulture’s world

About two thirds of the way down, I happened to glance at my watch and realized the next train – they run every hour – was twenty minutes away. I had a long haul to go but did not feel like waiting an extra hour so I accelerated as much as joint safety would allow. The trail was whisked through, the town ricocheted on and I was standing on the Cold Spring station platform a good two minutes before the train pulled in.

Unfortunately, I was not alone. The platform was literally packed, taken over by hikers going home, dressed up couples fancying a night in town, and everything in between. The forward cars were full but I had been lucky enough to gamble on the tail and managed to find a seat. It was a pleasant ride along the Hudson, the sun setting slowly over the river in a golden spill.

When we got off the train in the bowels of Grand Central, I was amazed to see the number of people filling the platform. I was part of an exodus into the city, or would that be an inxodus? Having climbed up into the beautiful main hall and back down to the ugly subway, I waited for ten or fifteen minutes for the 4 train, the 5 having – yet again – been taken out of service for weekend construction.

The Metro North train passenger load empties into Grand Central – Not my best shot ever, phone held at arm’s length while walking fast

It arrived completely full. I forced my way into the car along with a few others but at the next station, 23rd Street, I was expelled by the flow of people exiting and never managed to work my way back aboard. The doors closed and the subway left without me as I swore softly. Rather than waiting another quarter of an hour for a new struggle, I decided to climb up one level and walk over to the R train, which arrived within ten minutes. It was almost empty. I sat down with delight.

But a nasal voice soon came on the loudspeaker to advise us that due to construction, this train was skipping the usual route, going over the Manhattan Bridge and landing in Brooklyn one station past mine. I would have to backtrack. I think I swore a little louder. I got off at Hoyt-Schermerhorn (bless you!) and crossed to the opposite track to go home but the train was just leaving. I’d have to wait some more. Afraid that Marie would worry, I climbed up into the station until I had a signal to give her a quick call.

When I came back down, another train was leaving, without me again. I briefly wondered if I should have caught a cab, the ultimate sacrilege, but waited. All and all, it took me one hour and a half to cover what I had done in thirty minutes in the morning. New York was not letting me forget reality. The escape had been brief. I was back in the city.

“You can stand all night
At a red light anywhere in town,
Hailing maries left and right
But none of them slow down.”

Something Fast – The Sisters of Mercy