There is a maxim of the traveler, an unwritten rule that sits in the head of any person who has full control over their position on the planet, an instinct that drives every animal that migrates:
Go North April – September, go south October – March.
Bangor, Maine, USA January 20, 2009
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This is one of the prime rules of travel. One that I often forget. I am in the northeast of the USA. It is cold.
I traveled down from Rochester to New York City a couple weeks ago. Baby Petra and Chaya rode down with me, we visited friends, and we met Harry Franck’s daughter in NJ.
Upon arriving in NYC we began doing what Chaya and I grew accustom to doing in that city: walking the streets, riding the subway to random destinations, walking some more, looking at people.
This was always enjoyable the last time we were here, when we were students in Brooklyn. Our memories are of walking morning to night through the various boroughs, taking subway trains just for fun, eating lunch in Chinatown, swimming at Coney Island, sitting in parks in Brooklyn, watching Bollywood movies in Queens, hanging out on the Brooklyn bridge looking at the Manhattan lights until late into the night. But our walks then took us through the last glimmering days of summer and the beginning of autumn.
New York City is a different place in the winter.
The cold wind hits hard like a wall of permeable ice — we run through it between the skyscrapers, holding the tails of our coats over our baby. Behind the skyscrapers, walking in New York City is merely cold; walking between intersections where the wind is funneled in along the roads between the buildings, walking in New York City in the winter is not much fun. We raced from place to place, ducked into convenient stores where we had no intention of purchasing anything, took refuge in subway stations we had no intention of catching a train at — we were cold, and just wanted to warm up a little. We also feared that Petra was not having a very good time. She wasn’t. She squirmed and yelped when the ice wind broke through her parent’s barricade of coats and touched her face.
“Are you having any fun?” my wife finally looked up at me and asked. It was a very good question.
Traveling in the cold is a good way to lose the prime directive of travel.
Go north April through October, south November through March. This is the third rule of the traveler.