By Johna Till Johnson
I’ve always loved the East River.
She’s not really a river at all, but rather a connector between Long Island Sound and New York Harbor. That topography accounts for her rapid currents, which are slightly out of sync with those of the Hudson (a tidal estuary). And it also accounts for much of her charm. To me, the East River has always been beautiful, mysterious, and slightly dangerous, with an allure that’s impossible to resist.
Before I learned to kayak, I’d walk along the river and think, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to go into the water?” Crazy thought! In addition to the swift currents, the East River was known in decades past for pollution and the occasional dead body. (These days, the water is much cleaner. There are even dolphins!)
After I took up paddling, I ended up actually in the East River more than once, usually by design (practicing capsizing in current) but one memorable time entirely by accident. And I’ve paddled its length many more times than that—my best count is that I’ve circumnavigated Manhattan around 40 times, and I’ve paddled out to Long Island Sound a handful of times as well.
But as is the case with most true loves, knowing the East River better only increases her allure.
It was natural, then, when a blizzard rolled in, for me to make time to go down to the East River and see what she looked like in snow. I’m biased, but isn’t she gorgeous?