Archive for the ‘ Nature ’ Category

Winning Winter

It has been months since I’ve been able to sit a write, partially due to a computer failure, and mostly due to a long stretch of work and life business. The high and lowlights from the Chill:

• Patriots win Super Bowl LI with impossible comeback. Down 28-3 with 2:00 left in the 3rd quarter, it looked bleak (and that was being optimistic). But some textbook mental toughness and Tom Brady being the greatest ever, they complete the most fantastic comeback in Super Bowl history. Legendary.

• I have been dealing with a Lyme disease diagnosis and have been through several rounds of anti-biotics. I was very sick and my right knee was wildly engorged and immobile for about a week before I went to the doctor and asked to be tested for Lyme. I spend a fair amount of time in The Hudson Valley, the Lyme disease capital of the world, and have pulled ticks off of my skin at various times, so I have been somehow expecting this affliction for years and have likely had a relatively mild case of it for quite a while. While the AB treatment was effective in resurrecting me from bedridden cripple, my knee has never fully recovered and I recently visited the preeminent expert on the disease, Dr. Zhang, who prescribed me herbs in pills and acupuncture. It is, unfortunately, something I will likely have to monitor indefinitely.

• Our president is a disgraceful embarrassment, hellbent on destroying our government, our environment, our health, our science, our education, and our Truth. All of this for the price of enriching himself and corporate profiteers. It is simply horrifying and we probably have not seen the bottom yet.

• But Skiing! Big snow and great skiing in Vermont and Utah! A couple of storms brought the goods to Vermont just in time for our arrival in February and we were able to enjoy a few days of skiing. Magic Mountain was nearly perfect and for the first time in 3 years, Black Chair was carrying people uphill. I even got to ski the never-open lift-line trail, Black Magic, which is as challenging as anything on a New England trail map. We spent a few hours on Sunday at Okemo with Ivy and she was actually managing to keep herself upright on her own skis, which was a dramatic improvement from our previous attempts and made me incredibly happy to be sharing time on the slopes with her! Monday (Presidents’ Day) we went for a family hike/skin/snowshoe on Mt. Ascutney, which was closed for years but has recently been acquired by the town and reopened with a free rope-tow and backcountry access. It is a perfect place for our family to explore with the kids in backpacks and I hope to spend more time there in the future!

And then Utah! Last winter, as I came to the realization that my ski season was truly sad and unfulfilling, attributable to a new baby and some of the consistently worst conditions the East has ever seen, I proposed that Alaina and I treat ourselves to a Western ski trip next year. After roping our parents into babysitting duties, we planned three days in the most accessible spot with some of the best mountains to play in: Salt Lake City. Snowbird is as steep and burly as any lift-served terrain in the world; Solitude and Brighton have endlessly varied terrain; Powder Mountain has zero frills and infinite vibe. All three days were 50 degree bluebird days with soft spring corn. While I may fantasize about storms of snow, the carefree weather that we received was truly ideal for this easy escape and perfect date trip.

Luckily, two days after we returned from our trip, a gigantic blizzard pulverized the Northeast and set up Stowe with four feet of snow, just in time for the annual Stoweravaganza. Saturday involved a backcountry tour with blissful, effortless turns through the trees followed by delightful apres-ski pizza and beers and music and friends in the greatest classic ski house I’ve ever seen. Sunday was Ivy’s day, and she skied with me, which is, again, as much happiness as I will ever experience on the slopes. I feel like I get to begin my ski life all over again, sharing this activity with her, and hopefully she will love it even a little bit as much as I do!

• It is now officially Spring and I can feel the warmth approaching rapidly. Windows are opening and spending time outside doesn’t require battle gear anymore. We are shifting modes and new activities are on the horizon. This Winter was challenging, painful, exciting, euphoric and beautiful. I look forward to tomorrow and every day I have remaining to enjoy this life fully!


Labor Day

What a Summer for this guy! I currently sit in one of my favorite spots in the known universe: Eventide Cabin on Mt. Desert Island. Acadia is a personal paradise and spending time here with my wife, child and parents is very high on my who/what/where triangulation rankings.

I have been consistently scoring very well this Summer, packed with fantastic weekends around the Northeast: The Land, Bellport, Osterville, Vermont, Maine, and even a few in Brooklyn; Ivy and I rolled all over town on my bike and explored beaches and amusement parks (Coney Island!), swimming pools and water playgrounds (Sunset Park! Brooklyn Bridge Park!), sports events (Cyclones! NYCFC! US Open!), concerts (Prospect Park!) and celebrated her birthday with a backyard BBQ bash. I have enjoyed freedom from work over the past three months and have spent it with my daughter as well as I could. She may not remember our adventures, but I had so many experiences with her that I will never forget! Alaina and I spent every weekend together, which never happened when she worked in theater, and we had two incredible theater date nights, seeing Cymbeline in Central Park and Hamilton on Broadway, the latter of which set a new gold standard for me; simply the most exciting theatrical experience of my life. I also played a round on the best golf course I have ever seen at Fishers Island and are at my new favorite restaurant, The Honey Paw in Portland, established by my awesomely talented brother. 

And now I sit overlooking Frenchman’s Bay in one of my most tranquil moments of the Summer (Ivy is napping!) and reminiscing on time passed and time ahead: Labor Day weekend is always bittersweet as my return to labor is imminent. I have great work to go back to, but I will definitely miss my freedom and days of Ivy. We’re on to Fall!
  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

   

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

             

Snow Blessings

The past two weekends were spent in the abundantly snow-covered Green Mountains of Vermont, getting after some of the best conditions one could hope for; February was one of the best months for snow in the Northeast that I can ever remember. I spent two days at good ol’ Magic Mountain, riding Red Chair and finding pristine stashes of untracked powder everywhere. Saturday was actually the most crowded I’ve ever seen the mountain, and the usually empty lift line involved a 15 minute wait a few times. While I love that place for its desolation, I like to see it selling some tickets and hope that with a few days like that, it can manage to clear the bare-bones-but-not-cheap expenses that it costs to operate the area for the year. Sunday was frigid and back to emptiness with plenty of snow to enjoy, and we brought the whole family and a crew of friends and spent time trading off child-care in the remarkably kid-friendly lodge. While it does offer some of the steepest and most challenging tree skiing in the East, the mountain is perfect for all ages and abilities, with its lone chair servicing a wide variety of terrain and a convenient meeting spot for everyone at the bottom, no matter what run you choose. I also spent a morning skiing “The Backyard” in Chester, hiking up and dropping into some of the deepest powder I have ever experienced; the runs are quick but also some of the sweetest turns I could imagine.

The following weekend was a boys trip to Sugarbush. I am fortunate to have a wife who understands my obsession with the sport and my need for vertical feet when the conditions are calling, so I made the trip North solo at 4am on Saturday and met my Boston buddies on the hill. We skied hard and maximized our time deep in the woods, finding spots we had never discovered with the highlight run being a quick hike off the Heaven’s Gate lift along the Long Trail to an untouched line of pure joy. We were whooping ecstatically with every turn, loving the blissful sensation of effortless carving through the fresh snow.

Busy

The fact that I have not written here in over two months speaks to how fast time has accelerated recently. I am working more than I have ever worked and doing my best to learn new skills and techniques of teaching older kids. It has been a challenging period for me, but I am enjoying it immensely. Seeing the musical abilities of children rapidly improving through the elementary years is awesome and inspiring!

Unfortunately, this schedule has made Ivy time increasingly rare. During the week, I see her from too-early in the morning until I leave for work. She is usually asleep when I return, so I cherish the hour or so I do spend with her, even in my typical morning zombie mode. Because of my limited Ivy-hours, I enjoy the weekend even more than I did when I spent those days in party zombie mode. Last weekend was a bit of a throwback to the olden days of my younger self; a Friday night Halloween kids parade followed by 5th Ave bar crawl and a Saturday night with Dean Ween band at Brooklyn Bowl, and a trip to Foxboro with Dad and Bro on Sunday where the Patriots stomped all over the Broncos and reasserted their dominance in the NFL. It was an epic party weekend with a confluence of amazing events! This weekend was more low-key and the past three days were wonderfully family-centric, sending me back to work tomorrow with great memories of time shared with my favorite people. I had Friday off and took Ivy on a tour of Brooklyn parks; we took a walk in Prospect Park, then Sunset Park and the brand new Bush Terminal Piers Park, where Ivy was recognized as the first baby visitor! Saturday was a Geisler/Taylor family adventure to the beautiful Storm King Sculpture Park and a trip to The Bronx Zoo and Sunday was a stroll through local Greenwood Cemetery and some quality time with Ivy’s bestie, Maisie. October weekends included a Vermont excursion and celebration of Grandma’s 90th birthday with four generations of Herters! Of all the amazing things I get to do in my life, there is nothing better than simply sharing time with Alaina and Ivy!

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Summer’s End

It has been creeping ever closer, and yesterday was D-day: the start of school. It begins and Summer ends, with all the freedom and travels and family time replaced by institutional regulations. I have always loved my schools and the learning and teaching that occurs within the walls, but will eternally dread the return to regimented schedule!

Summertime was fantastic while it lasted, and we left Brooklyn every weekend but one. Bellport, Warwick, Osterville, Chester, Portland and a phenomenal final week in Bar Harbor made Ivy’s first Summer a Northeast classic. I love these places so much and loved introducing Ivy to the world that I have grown up in!

Although the change is abrupt, this school year is highly anticipated with a particularly exciting new job involved: I will be working full-time at Poly Prep teaching all music classes Nursery through 4th grade. I have been teaching for 12 years and almost all of it has been with children ages 0-5; now I am working with kids twice as old. They change! I hope to learn as much as I teach and look forward to sharing music with these young humans!

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SNOW!

I was born a snow lover, a few weeks before the blizzard of ’78 in Boston, and have always appreciated the convergence of atmospheric phenomena that produces dendrites! Sledding was the earliest form of snow fun and my backyard, with its 15′ vertical drop was more than enough to thrill me through my tiny years. When I outgrew that, I would sled down our back steps off a jump onto the patio. I started skiing when I was 7 and was quickly obsessed, following daily conditions in the Boston Globe Sports Section and memorizing mountain statistics; I drew hundreds of imaginary trail maps and skied every Saturday with the Mass Ski Club for  years. I chose college in Vermont to be near the mountains and bought a season pass every year. Upon graduation, I considered moves to a more permanent ski bum lifestyle in California, Utah and Colorado…

But ended up in New York City.

I have lived here for 12 years and couldn’t be happier. I chose a culture bum lifestyle instead and enjoy the world’s best Arts and Entertainment here. I make sacrifices in personal space and ski access to live here but still get giddy for a good Nor’Easter, of which we have had several this year. I have skied on the sidewalks of Brooklyn when there is ample powder, but haven’t quite found anything steep enough to satisfy my schuss needs… So I bought a hill in Vermont!

I now find myself sacrificing ski days for my daughter and still love the trade-off. I look forward to years of skiing with her in the future. But even with my inconvenient locale and family overtime, I have managed to click in for a few fortuitously-timed days this season. Just after New Years Day, I skied some fresh snow at tiny Mt. Peter in Warwick, NY; top to bottom was under 30 seconds, but most runs were untouched and pure powder. The most recent storm dropped two feet on Southern Vermont and the conditions were spectacular for President’s Day Weekend. Half-days at Okemo, Killington, Magic and the VT Backyard took the edge off my craving for frozen sliding and the prospect of Spring doesn’t scare me as much now as it did a week ago.

I still follow snow reports around the country and get excited when The Pacific Northwest gets dumped on or sad when Tahoe is dry. I have dedicated myself to other life pursuits beyond this passion and have learned to enjoy any time I do spend on the slopes without reservations about its limited nature. I have little control over timing and less over conditions which makes the recreational appreciation greater than any experience in a controlled environment; when my work and family schedule allows, plus a perfect combination of temperature, moisture and pressure drop crystallized water molecules from the sky, I will always enjoy them!

Two Months

Time has lost any relative meaning it might have had for me. It is impossible to believe that two months have passed since Ivy was born; it still seems so new and yet hours pass instantly with me doing nothing but holding her and staring in amazement. She is always incredible.

But in many ways my life is the same! Every day I go to work as I did since before the dawn of Ivy! I still have friends that existed before she was ever imagined! And my eternal devotion to the sports teams of my youth has never been deeper! On Sunday I witnessed one of the most memorable days of greatness I have ever seen: After losing several of their key players to injuries, and relinquishing a late lead, The Patriots staged an impossible last minute drive to win and then the Red Sox, perhaps the most redemptive and hirsute bunch ever assembled on a baseball diamond, came back late on a Big Papi Grand Slam and took game 2 of the ALCS.

It would have been enough to watch those legendary sports events, but to spend the weekend with the Strong family in peak foliage Vermont, one day clearing glades at Magic Mountain Volunteer day then two days hiking through our new property with Alaina and Ivy made this one of the finest weekends of my new life.

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Vermont Land

Since leaving Middlebury, I have had a insatiable need to return to Vermont as often as possible. It is a beautiful and inspiring place to be and absolutely necessary as a counterbalance to my life in the city. I have always dreamed of owning some raw and natural Land somewhere and recently the dream became reality with the purchase of 11.5 acres in Chester for $7,500. It is cheap and steep. A brook runs through the bottom of the property and the hillside shoots up a few hundred feet to a gentler slope that could have nice views with some clearing. The steep bank means driveway potential is nearly nil, though a neighbor has generously agreed to allow foot and horse access. While conventional building potential is limited, it meets all the criteria of a perfect weekend campsite for our family. It is a long term (lifetime!) project to slowly increase our comfort level in all conditions and there is lots of work to be done but I look forward to doing it!IMG_4841 IMG_4834 IMG_4828

Summer Swing

And then it was Summer! Hot and sunny with a two-day-a-week work schedule, the shift is quick and extreme and I am thoroughly enjoying it. One of my favorite aspects of the city at this time is the wealth of free outdoor cultural events. Concerts in Prospect Park have been supremely fun, with Amadou and Mariam, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Os Mutantes and Javelin providing the early season entertainment in my backyard. The venue is perfect and free events promote attendance, so bringing a group of friends to see a show by a band few have heard is easy; everyone has a good time at these events and the community thrives. Among other great offerings, I am particularly looking forward to Philip Glass’ Dracula this weekend, The Devil Makes Three and Trampled By Turtles for some hot bluegrass and electronic wizard and audience organizer Dan Deacon later this Summer.

Perhaps the greatest cultural gem in the city is Shakespeare in the Park. Free, outdoor theater is such a rarity and the Public Theater’s commitment to the concept is unparallelled. I would happily wait in line all day for tickets, but having a wife with connections is even better, so we avoid the lines and arrive at showtime! The Comedy of Errors is classic mistaken-identity slapstick and this production was stylized as a Swing-era, upstate New York gangster spoof. The language, as always, is deft and clever and the actors are absolutely brilliant as they bring the text to life. It rained a bit as we watched, but it only added to the magic… I can’t wait to see what Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson team Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman have cooked up for Love’s Labor Lost, A New Musical!

With so much free time and beautiful weather, all I want in my life is outdoor relaxation and “The Land” is one of the greatest spots on Earth to enjoy it. With woods and a pond and a recently added enormous vegetable garden, it is Eden. While our annual Land Party is on hiatus this year for the imminent arrival of our child, we were still able to enjoy it last week by ourselves. I did not leave the grounds for five days and spent most of my hours lying in the meadow, swimming in the pond or eating fresh food from the garden. I actually did work some of the time, assisting in the construction of a storage shed, but mostly I was in full chill-out mode. My quiet personal time may be coming to an end soon but I am incredibly excited about the impending child-rearing adventure and look forward to sharing the beauty of Summer in the City with my family!

Welcome Spring!

After a two-week vacation in which I logged 7 ski days (@Wildcat, Black, Burke, Stowe and Magic!) I am ready to spring into some warm weather, and today was the first T-shirt day of the year. The windows are wide open and I hope I don’t have to close them until October (early Spring naïveté). While I worship the winter and its white alpine bounty, I might have a harder time appreciating it without the warmth of summer. Being outside can be beautiful or miserable, depending on surroundings and weather, so anytime the factors align pleasantly, I am sure to enjoy it.

This summer will obviously include some great outdoor time, although we don’t have any exotic foreign trips planned. Scheduling anything outside our vicinity this summer will be a challenge as we are due for the unpredictable adventure of our daughter’s Birth! July 29 is the best guess at a date, but we are dealing with nature here, which is always full of surprises…

Like our global travels of pre-parenting, I am thrilled at the idea of venturing into the unknown for new experiences and daily challenges. While researching these trips is always informative, it rarely provides a sense of what it is actually like to be there and live a day-to-day existence; I have been working with children for 12 years and I still have no concept of what fatherhood is, but I will learn as I go, and learning is always good. I will make mistakes and I will acknowledge them to become a better parent for my child, who deserves the greatest life I am capable of providing for the education and enrichment of my own life that she provides. I can’t wait to meet her…