I’m walking the line from 34th to Gansevoort, its asters and sumacs and liatris and coneflowers a meadow haze leafing out the muffin-browns and distant chrome of the skyline to the east. Limping the old track, grateful for the frequent benches and absent company of so many other breaths, the blue breeze.
I wish my nine-year-old were here — to brush her fingertips against the purple grass and watch the bees use the wildflowers on the disused rails to gather spice for mead. A warbler, well-concealed, essays an aria. The Hudson is a teal swarth the colour of her garden-going dress. Her sandals frisk the gravel as she leans into an autumn lush she has never known, making up names for what delights: Sunflume, Seaworthy, Want-You-Gone, Midnight Waltz, Violet Troll-Hair, Strayfire, Desideranium.
But she is half a planet away in a different climate, rehearsing sanctioned truths for year-end tests, grappling with sums and with a language that catches in her throat, verities meant to tell her who she is in the world. Precision and heritage and function and worth.
There is beauty in fidelity. But not the only kind of beauty.
If fate is kind she may find her way here in her time, whether or not I’m around to see it. I hope it will be on a day like this: a day where she can be glad of this life and her place in it, content to follow the verdant path wherever it leads. A day she’d wish on anyone.