Being with the Hudson River

| 13 Nov 2012 | 05:28

I have friends who are active in the Hudson: Tom swims in it every day, Mike windsurfs, Shari kayaks. I just get drawn to the River usually when I’m near it, crossing a bridge, in a town nearby. It beckons: “Hey, buddy, got a few minutes?” There’s the smell, the colors, the temperatures, the wind or breeze and then there’s the stuff, the foam, the bottles, pods and driftwood. Oh, the driftwood on its way from Somewhere to Elsewhere! It’s dreamy, yet there’s that ever so slight edge of dread. Will the River get me? It’s that same thing that happens in the woods: a slight overlap of generosity and danger; indifferent beauty.

I thought that I was not alone in this. So a few months ago, through the adult education program at Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh, I offered a Sunday morning “course” at Plum Point, a 100-acre park on the bank of the Hudson just south of Newburgh with 2,000 feet of sandy riverfront. The description read thus: With a few simple tools and a good eye, we’ll build from the driftwood we find and collect there. You might make a bench or a sculpture. You can leave it there or take it home. Dan will teach about the various kinds of tools and techniques he uses to make driftwood creations.

There were eight of us. Some people jumped right in, literally. Others kayaked in from somewhere else. There were careful sharp-eyed beachcombers and burly log-loving guys.

We played and worked and played for a few hours and went home. Oh, we did leave something there to remind people of the greatness of the Hudson, of the delight of just being with the River for a while. It balanced and twirled in the wind. Sort of like the way we felt.

By Daniel Mack

Thin places unmask us. Share yours at