My hiking buddy was working last weekend so I decided to walk in a more public place, the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River. The arboretum, formerly known as Westbrook, was purchased by William Bayard Cutting and his brother Fulton Cutting in 1884. in 1887, the property landscaping was designed by Frederick Olmstead. Mrs. Bayard James deeded the property to the Long Island Park Commission in 1936.
The last time I attempted to stroll the Arboretum grounds was almost one year ago, the day before Hurricane Sandy paid a visit and the day before my hip replacement surgery. It seemed appropriate that after walking the grounds with great difficulty a year ago I should take an “anniversary” stroll to celebrate my one year old hip. I began my walk by heading south, past the Manor House towards the woodland trails, a replication of our walk last year.
The trails in this part of the arboretum are more reminiscent of walking through woods than strolling the manicured landscape that one would associate with an arboretum. I meandered the paths admiring the display of autumn foliage. Here were the yellow heads of the golden rod already turned brown and in another spot were some aster and fleabane flowers still showing off their fringed attire.
Sometimes I went down one trail figuring I would find myself back at that fork and could explore the other path on my return. And here we have the primary reason why one should always venture into the woods with a hiking partner. Now I am not known for my sense of direction, so I never did return to that fork in the road. I would take a direction assuming I would find myself in a different place than where I ended up. At other times I passed the same location, like the covered benches, multiple times. Sometimes, the path would get too narrow and I would have to turn around. Fortunately we live in an area where I could not get “hopelessly lost”. After all, eventually I would hit water or a major highway.
I finally ended up on a trail that we attempted to use a year ago when we had to cut our walk short due to the pain in my hip. This path would have provided a shortcut back towards the Manor House but on that day this avenue had ceased to exist. At first, we had thought that this wooded lane just ended by the water but as we looked across we saw that there were trees growing in the middle of the pond. Hurricane Sandy had already pushed the tides high enough that the river channel had washed over the path and joined the pond on the other side. On this day however, I was able to cross over towards the more formal structure of the arboretum.
I continued meandering on paved promenades through formal gardens still in full bloom. Noticing that there was a dahlia event on the north side of the arboretum I decided to take a stroll over in that direction. The formal gardens and the dahlia exhibit provided one last chance to hold on to summer before the chill of November descends upon us.
After spending some time admiring the last blooms of summer, I headed back to the Manor House to have lunch in the cafe. I settled on the veranda admiring the large beech tree, manicured lawns and the river beyond. It had been a wonderful anniversary walk of 4 miles in about 2 hours.