I’ve biked past the Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary a few hundred times and leaned my bike up against a tree and walked in one hundred yard to the bridge and took a few pics. I can see, further along during my ride there is a parking lot where you can enter on the other side of the estuary. Just last Friday we were on the other side of the Wallkill at the River_To_Ridge parking lot and I could see that the river cut away leaving that spit of land surrounded by the river and the swamp.
Oxbow is a term that is easy enough to visualize. You think of some areal view of the Congo in National Geographic. I'd knows as well that this is how they described this park it was only on this trip that I finally realized that this had been a steep bend in the course of the river, an oxbow, which the river cut its way through during some flood and it ended up running its course through straight thereafter leaving what has been river front property and rendering it the swamp-front property of today. I was curious to see just when this course of the river shifted. The Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary website suggests that it happened “hundreds” of years ago. If that were more than one but less four hundred years ago it might have been what drove the early town plan to have houses along this road. But then why was there no extant architecture on the other side of what had been the river? Was it all the land of one estate? A map from 1875 has the river flowing as it does today.
We parked and took a cold walk past what we presumed to be a waste treatment facility, given the big industrial looking containers, that started to smell pretty foul as we walked along at the outset. Later we made our way on to a nest of well-fenced community gardens. It looks like they are extremely popular. I had to fudge my way along for a bit, it wasn’t exactly marked, but I knew the general direction I wanted to proceed. At one point I clambered off from the main trail and came upon a huge field. Sitting in the grass about thirty yards out was a young man who abruptly got up and walked off. I too turned around and left him to the field.
Up closer to the opposite shore of Huguenot St, I felt the sound that cuts in the back of your windpipe, the sharp scrape of skates on a frozen lake. What appeared to be a father and a daughter were taking shots at a goal of two shoes. Over by the bridge two people were figure skating and three young ladies were tightening their white skates, preparing to head out as well. And for a moment New Paltz felt a Brueghel-like town in winter. Winter people had met to do something.