In the summer of 1981, a four year old girl, wearing a floor length lavender dress and flowers in her hair, drifted onto the front balcony of the Lambertville House. Light crowds of antiquers and weekenders strolled the streets below in the early part of a beautiful August morning, and I – the little girl – made my first memory of life on the banks of the Delaware. My uncle was married that day, in the Methodist Church with its famous white steeple. He lived on the river in Lambertville, and I remember days in which I’d tempt gravity, hanging over the low stone wall that held me steadfastly from the rushing waters below.
I was a New Yorker in those days. My family would ride back and forth on weekends from our Staten Island home to the river towns and bridges we grew to know and love. First, Lambertville and New Hope… Breakfasts at the Full Moon; the Shad Festival; and long walks around town. Later, others. My uncle eventually broke into the antique business and relocated to the Pennsylvania side, and my parents purchased ten acres of land just north of Nockamixon. Our weekends shifted from town to field. We learned our way around Frenchtown and got nervous thrills passing over the then-wooden bridge that carried us to the tall grass of our plot, where we’d picnic and play with the dogs that wandered over from the neighboring farm.
Memories of Tinicum Park, burgers at the Great American Grill, and dusty, outdoor antique shows play back in 8mm. Gold tones, grainy textures, and glares of sunlight characterize the images of our regular visits in those years. Summer rompers made of lemon yellow terry cloth, purple sneakers, and curly pigtails… My mother paid so much attention to making me adorable, though I always ended up with muddy socks and filthy knees, covered in burs and bandaids. I was never able to stay out of the wilds. I still can’t.
Eventually deciding a more populated area would be an easier transition, my parents sold their buildable land in Kintnersville and opted for a home near my uncle in Solebury Township. The summer after my tenth birthday, we left New York City and began again on a hilltop just south of the Stockton bridge. Erico’s Market became the spot for a short grocery list, and our exploration of alternatives to town lead us down the old railroad passage to places like Prallsville Mill and eventually Bulls Island.
As I grew, so did my familiar spaces. I began to wander further up and down the riverbanks. I discovered parks, restaurants, farms, trails, people, and adventures that I have since learned to cherish as my own, not just the shimmering reflections of the river life I visited in memory. In my adulthood, nothing felt more right than coming home with my two sons and introducing them to the Delaware and her communities, nestled among the hills and trees. I walked their small feet into her frigid spring waters, baptizing them into a life far simpler and more adventurous than anything the crowded suburbia they were born to could ever have offered.
Now, with an entirely new version of my life underway, I find myself committed to deepening my connections to the communities here and preserving and protecting our historic sites and open spaces. I am incredibly excited to travel throughout the riverside communities, exploring and learning about the places and people residing here, and sharing with you what I find.