Two canals parallel the Delaware River for 30 miles. One goes from Morrisville to Uhlerstown on the Pennsylvania side and the other goes from Trenton to Frenchtown on the New Jersey side. Along these canals are trails easily walked and bicycled, former tow paths trod many decades ago by mules pulling barges up and down the canals.
Five bridges span the Delaware along this stretch of river, so it is easy to do loops. Walk or cycle upstream on one side of the river, cross a bridge, then come back along the other side and cross another bridge to get back where you started. From New Hope, Pennsylvania, it is a 7.1-mile loop upriver to Stockton and back via Lambertville. It is a 14.8-mile loop downriver to Washington Crossing. Physically, this is easy. Mentally, nothing could be more risky!
I know, it does not sound dangerous but it is. Something happens when you amble down these former tow paths. A sense of calm descends upon you. You feel something like peace, something like tranquility, especially if the sun is shining and the day is so lazy your thoughts wander.
Birds — Canadian geese, mallard ducks, swans, and even great blue herons — are comfortable with you passing quite near them. They watch you and do not fly off. They recognize you are no threat to them, that your mind has entered The Canal Zone.
Such a state of mind can be profoundly disturbing if you are not used to it. You get to thinking weird thoughts, that your being at peace somehow radiates peace worldwide, that your being on this verdant path between three parallel water courses is somehow benefiting the universe, that you are like a monk praying in his cell, your communion with God blessing everyone, everywhere, who ever was and ever will be, that your life must be blessed to have brought you here and that your life will continue to be blessed having experienced such communion.
But what if the peace you are somehow radiating is negated by others who, feeling it, think they can now be even more aggressive without tipping the universe over the edge? For instance, what about all those noisy dump trucks full of gravel going down the road next to the canal? What if the drivers are now pushing their steel chariots faster and louder, simply because they know your tranquility is there to offset their ever more reckless speed and grinding noise?
Such are the thoughts that came into my mind in The Canal Zone. What cogitations will invade your mind?
I tell you, walk or cycle these paths at your own risk. There is no telling what thoughts might assail you once your mind drifts away from your day-to-day priorities and is free to contemplate the water, the land, the sky, and your fellow creatures. Don’t be a fool! Keep your mind busy with the next task at hand. Don’t the gutters need cleaning? Have the dishes been put away? Stay away from rivers and canals.
New Hope, Pennsylvania
June 14, 2019
Click on any image below to see it larger in a slide show. Once in the slide show, use your arrow keys to advance and retreat. Return to this post by depressing the ESC key of your keyboard, or click on the “x” in the upper righthand corner of the slide show. Right-click on a slide-show image to download it to your computer and credit “Danny Schweers Photography” if you publish it in any form. If you do use my image or would like to purchase a print or would like to make a comment, please contact me.