Reuben and Max resting, Hartford

For a very long time, my boys have been clamoring to go fishing. Today, with marvelous weather and no work, seemed the perfect opportunity. We went to Target in the morning and purchased two rods (one of which, happily, was called “The Ugly Stik” [sic]), then came home, where the boys dug worms out of the garden dirt while I made lunch. Then we made for my favorite location on the Connecticut, the railroad bridge at the north end of Riverfront Park in Hartford.

The fishing was, frankly, lackluster. I don’t know what the boys expected, but they soon found out what I already knew: it is basically boring. It’s a contemplative activity, if we can call it an activity at all, because really it’s an excuse to sit outdoors quietly near water. But four- and seven-year-olds are, as a general rule, nonplussed by the quiet contemplation of nature, and both were quickly grousing about the lack of action.

Luckily, just then, Reuben caught a fish:

Reuben beholds his catch

He seems calm in this picture, but when he was reeling the line in and saw that he actually had a fish, he started to whoop and holler and jump and down, and I thought he might pitch himself off the damn bridge. (The fish was about five inches long, and was tossed back to the river after being handled with great curiosity by both children.)

After that, nibbles were scarce, but there were other highlights. First, somewhat frighteningly, an actual train engine came across the bridge, something I have never witnessed in the four years I’ve been going there. We learned that the walkway beside the tracks gets very very narrow when a train comes by, but we stood with our backs against the railing and we were OK.

Then, we got a long and close-up look at a hawk, who was perched about ten feet up on a water treatment building near the bridge:

Hawk

We followed that with a stroll down the tracks to the trainyard, which yielded many attractions, both natural and man-made:

Hoboes

Not so hasty, Grasshopper

Train wheels

Hoboes

Max does a balance beam routine at the trainyard

Finally, sun-baked and tired, I labored slowly home with the boys on the back of my bicycle, and we all settled in for a bath, a movie, and copious, restorative doses of lemonade.

Train’s Eye View

October 1, 2011

In-between view, Hartford

I recently traveled to Philadelphia by train, and was reminded of what a unique view one gets of the world from the tracks. There are ramshackle rear porches, long-forgotten business signs from an age when the facade facing the tracks mattered, and patches of wilderness just out of sight of city and sprawl. Back when I was taking the train to Bridgeport three or more days a week for work, I had the idea to walk stretches of track and take pictures of everything I saw, but I never got around to it (probably because of the demands of a job that required two and a half hours of commuting on most days). The trip to Philly reminded me of this forgotten project, and being as I’m now self-employed and in more control of my time, I vowed to try again. Today was the first attempt, with a five-and-a-half-mile walk from the waterfront in Hartford, along railroad tracks parallel to the river, up into Windsor. I had the good fortune to run into a friend on the way downtown, who was happy to join me, so we got to catch up as we wandered. Here’s some of what we saw:

Well-graffitied structure

Pieces

Pieces

Pieces

Protecting Today's Perishables For Tomorrow

Relaxing with a drink

Power lines crossing the Connecticut

Large red building, with tracks

DO NOT HUMP

Hartford

You Make Yourself Happy

Jawbone

Heron