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2009-04-12 - 8:25 p.m.

...Easter in the rain...

About ten years ago, more or less, I started the habit of going on an Easter walk. Since then, I've enjoyed a number of outtings.

In 1996, I took the first of three Easter hikes in Harriman Park, near Bear Mountain. The first hike was as a grad student, with my then-partner of several years. The sun peeped up over the rolling hills of the Catskills and it re-affirmed my somewhat romantic love of the Hudson River Valley. And everything - my thesis, my life, my relationship - felt okay for a few hours.

In 1998, I was alone and depressed in Sweden, and didn't realize that the holiday was sneaking up on me. By the time the Easter weekend came around and all the shops were closed, I realize that I was alone and without food. For four days. I lived on rice, pasta, garlic, olive oil, and a couple bits of cheese that weekend - I called my parents and warned them melodramatically that I might starve. But the carb-loading was enough to fuel a hike up the only hill in Lund, Sweden. I remember the sun peaked through the constant, overcast, grey clouds that day, and I was able to see all the way across the Strait to the windmills in Denmark. I was invigorated by the stunning view. I also remember my severe homesickness for the Hudson River Valley, and deciding on that day that it was okay for me not to like Sweden.

In 1999, I took my first Easter hike up to the top of the Wartburg, in Eisenach, Germany, with a friend from the office, a Chinese postdoc, and my then-boyfriend. It was a fabulous, typically German cloudy and rainy day. We hiked, took the Wartburg tour, and I absolutely loved the exhibit about Martin Luther. This was the first year that I began to associate my Easter walks with Goethe's tradition, and realized that I wanted to make my Easter walks a regular thing. Every year after this, I have tried to talk an Easter walk.

In 2000 I went alone to Bad Koesen and hiked up to a nearby Schloss - one that is painted in the background of a portrait of Nietszche by Edvard Munch. It is a stunning portrait, and in fact it's what inspired me to visit this Schloss in the first place. I've never seen the original of this portrait, but I'd love to see it someday. I associate two other memories with this day: (1) the realization that hiking after knee surgery will never be the same, and (2) the sense of accomplishment of reaching the top of a German trail after hiking an hour or two through wilderness, only to find a parkplatz full of mercedes, and biergarten full of lunching Germans at the top. Kinda takes the air out your proud adventuresome sails.

In 2001, I was with my mother and stepfather in Venice. We walked all through the city, and then took a tour boat out to Murano to wander as well. Afterwards, we ate olives and cheese and drank red wine in our room, while I wrote postcards (my hobby), my mother added up our expenses (her hobby) and my stepfather learned how to say "Bush is an asshole" in Italian (his hobby).

In the following years, I took local rambles into the hills surrounding my home in the Beethovenstrasse. It's hard to believe that there were only two more Easters before I wound up in New York. In my first year back in NY in 2004, I returned to the nearby Harriman Park and Bear Mountain, but enjoyed a different hike - this time with K and my grad school buddy Anji. It was a wonderful, very full day - more knee troubles, but we didn't let them dampen our spirits.

I wound up back at Bear Mountain the following year, this time with my East German choir - they were visiting the US for an extended gospel train across New England and New York. It snowed on this trip - but the walk was invigorating. My knee gave me lots of trouble - LOTS of trouble. But it never wiped the smile off my face. We spent our evenings in the lounge of our hotel. A wonderful visit.

The last few Easters have been a blur, but today I feel like we made an attempt to return to the Easter walk tradition, in spite of the cat-and-dog rain outside. We packed up the little one and tromped along to Lonsdale Quay - it was a very VERY light walk. But we went out and did something that we don't do everyday this Easter - enough to get me back in the spirit of Easter outtings, and to dream about what we might do next year. I'm already romanticizing about some exotic Wales, or Scotland, or or or Deep Cover...or maybe Harriman Park. Again. In any case, wherever we may be, I hope to be out walking next Easter.

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