Tag Archives: Rain

“Just Another Day in Paradise”

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

It’s late morning on a cool, rainy early June day.

Vlad and I have taken half a day off midweek for a training paddle—we need to get our mileage up for the Long Island circumnavigation we’ve got planned in a few weeks.

The currents aren’t right for too much, so we’ve decided to head down to Coney Island, land if possible for a late lunch, and return. (Boat landings are prohibited on the swimming beaches at Coney Island during the summer season, so we are not sure how the landing will work out…)

The day is oddly peaceful for midweek: Despite the usual ferry and commercial traffic, everything feels peaceful and subdued—muffled, perhaps, by the grey clouds that lower overhead and cling like cotton wadding to the buildings and bridges.

Cool, cloudy, muffled: Not what you’d normally think of as a wonderful day. Much less a heavenly one. But just south of Governor’s Island I overhear this exchange on the radio:

Captain 1: “How’s it going? We really need to get together sometime.”

Captain 2: (unintelligible crackle).

Captain 1: “Yeah, I hear ya! (chuckle). Just another day in paradise…”

Vlad  and I laugh at that, and wonder. Maybe the two are planning to get together in Bermuda, or the Bahamas? Surely New York Harbor on a cool, rainy day doesn’t qualify as “paradise”.

Guess what? By the end of our trip, I’m not so sure. Yes, we get shooed off the beach at Coney Island by the lifeguards. But we paddle across schools of dancing fish, peruse the Yellow Submarine…. and are greeted upon our return just at sunset by one of the most dramatic, spectacularly colorful rain showers either of us have ever seen.

Just another day in paradise? Look at the pictures, and you decide!

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All photos from the paddle are here. And for the Yellow Submarine of Brooklyn, see here.

It’s Not the Wind, It’s the Rain

By Vladimir Brezina

So, Hurricane Irene has come and gone.

In Manhattan—certainly in our corner of the Upper East Side—she hardly happened. Yes, there was quite a lot of rain (in Central Park, almost 7 inches), but not all that much wind. Walking round the Central Park Reservoir yesterday afternoon, I didn’t see a single tree down. (As compared, for instance, to the hundreds brought down almost exactly two years ago by a single violent thunderstorm, the scars of which are still visible.) There were torn leaves scattered everywhere, and the Reservoir was much fuller than usual. But that’s it.

In the rest of Manhattan, too, reporters were hard pushed to show anything really dramatic. The water lapping over the seawall at the Battery was shown over and over.

As a result, New Yorkers feel let down, and worse. The readers’ comments in the New York Times are running heavily against Mayor Bloomberg for ordering major precautions—massive evacuations, a shut-down of the entire transportation system—that, according to the Monday morning quarterbacks, were an absurd overreaction that was obviously motivated by the Mayor’s desire to compensate for his underreaction to last winter’s snowstorm. And where do we get a refund for the two lost days on our Metrocard?

Be that as it may, that’s taking a very narrow view of how catastrophic Irene in fact was.

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The Sun and the Rain: Kayaking down the Hudson from Albany to New York City

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

“Why is camping fun?”

I’ve been asked that many times through the years. Even active, tough, and healthy people, folks who glory in the feel of a strenuous workout, often wonder about it. Hard physical activity is a joy when it’s followed by a hot shower, a good meal (preferably cooked and delivered by someone else), and a clean, soft, safe  bed. But where’s the fun in ending a hard day’s workout by erecting a tent, attempting to cook dinner, bathing (if at all) in unheated water, and attempting to sleep on rocky ground? (Let’s not even talk about stinging and biting insects, itching poison oak and ivy, and the smallish-but-real risk of being attacked by a wild animal—or person.)

Why is camping fun?

It’s hardly a rhetorical question when you’re standing drenched to the skin, watching raindrops bore holes into the curry you’re desperately trying to heat over a flickering camping stove. Your muscles ache, but you can’t sit because the picnic table and ground are sodden. Darkness is all around you, lit only by the stove and the weak ripple of LEDs from the camp lamp through the rain. Behind you, the tent is battered by rain: Rivulets are pooling on the top and running down the sides, and you’re pretty sure the inside is damp as well. And the plummeting raindrops are cooling the curry as fast as you’re trying to heat it.

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