Change is in the air. I am talking about the leaves. Really.
If you don’t live in the Northeastern part of the United States you may not get to experience the glory of the changing of the seasons. Fall is spectacular in this region. The change from sultry humid days to the brisk chill and windy days of Autumn welcomes pumpkin beer, hot cider, apple crisp and jack-o-lanterns.
Caumsett State Park is located on the North Shore of Long Island in New York. It is a 1520 acre area that stretches along the rocky uninhabited coastline of the Long Island Sound. The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a nature preserve that focuses on conservation of bird habitats for piping plovers, common terns and least terns as well as other migratory birds.
Marshall Field lll built an estate on the property in 1925, one of the largest Gold Coast mansions at that time. In 1961 New York state purchased the property and it became a state park.
Former polo barns are currently used as barns for privately owned horses and some buildings are used to host educational programs. When my oldest son was in 4th grade, his class had an overnight trip to the park and learned about nature and conservation as well as engaged in trust building activities like walking blindfolded at night in the forest.
My family has been visiting this park for years. When our children were little, we attended church in town every Sunday. After church, the boys went to Sunday School and my husband and I walked down the street to enjoy Starbucks coffee and the Sunday newspaper. This was before smartphones, so we actually read together.
After Sunday School, the boys would get in the car and we inevitably would drive the extra 5 miles to Caumsett State Park for the 3 mile hike. People walk, jog and ride bicycles on the paved trail however no cars are allowed. The path is circular and from the parking lot to the main house is approximately 1.5 miles. From this elevated vista, you can see all the way across the Long Island Sound to Connecticut. Several dirt trails lead down to the water and are used by horses and people as well. In the Autumn you do get the most colorful views.
One Spring after church, we took both boys for our regular walk. My youngest was 7 years old at the time and liked to run ahead on his own. He was the explorer and liked to go off the beaten trail.
Well, a few days later my son had a fever and I noticed a large tick on his head. As a mother, it was horrifying. I hoped that if I didn’t look, it would go away. It didn’t go away, so I had to carefully pull it out of his head while he wriggled and shrieked in agony. I called the pediatrician and was asked to bring the tick into the office along with my child. She assured me it was a dog tick. No big deal, and to treat my sons’ fever and growing rash with children’s ibuprofen and calamine lotion.
The weekend progressed, and my son’s fever did not recede. In fact he couldn’t even eat. He was lethargic and the rash was growing and turning purple.
I brought him back to the doctor’s office on Monday and they panicked. They called ahead to the hospital not across the street, but 30 minutes away. They feared he had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever!
We all 4 rushed to the hospital where they were anxiously awaiting my son. Doctors asked to take pictures of his hands and feet since so few doctors had seen a case of Rocky Mountain Spotted fever before. My son was admitted and I spent the first night on a chair by his bed.
The next day my husband stayed the night and I stopped with my 10 year old son at a local book store. There was no WEB MD at the time so I looked in a medical book to find out more about Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. It turns out it is fatal. I started crying right there in the book store with my son in the next aisle. I had no idea how scary his condition had been.
After 3 days he was released and sent home. The doctors told us the medication he had been on was very strong and that it may turn his teeth yellow. Luckily that hasn’t happened. We did not allow that son to go on the 4th grade overnight trip to Caumsett.
My last memory of going to Caumsett State park with my family was when my oldest son came home freshman year from college and all 4 of us went for a walk. We still kept visiting this park because it is so peaceful and beautiful. It is also a nice flat 3 mile hike and easy for all of us. I cherish the photos I have of my husband with his sons that day. They were both taller than their dad and almost men.
Change is hard. I was married and mothering 2 boys at my home. Now I am a widow.
When I went to vote last week, it was very upsetting to see that my husband’s name was no longer above mine on the page that I have to sign. Today I was cleaning out some old shelves and found a Valentine’s day card he had picked out and given to me years ago. The message was “I love you more each day”.
Change can be upsetting but it’s not stagnant. This too shall pass as my mother always says. And it will.