Reprinted with the permission of Paul Deckelman and Prospect News, Inc.
Copyright 2012 by Prospect News Inc. All rights reserved.

Four days a week, I commute from my home to our company's office in Lower Manhattan, where I look forward to seeing the friends with whom I work.

But before I ever hit the office, I have already had my morning meeting with another group of "friends" - one which I also look forward to as part of the daily routine.

I am fortunate to live in one of the more picturesque neighborhoods in New York City. The Rockaway Peninsula is a 10-mile long finger of land attached to the South Shore of Long Island that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, linked to the rest of the city by the famous "A-Train" immortalized by Duke Ellington in the eponymous song. While most of the 842 miles of trackage that makes up the city subway system affords a rider a pretty boring view - endless miles of dank underground tunnels or, on above-ground elevated routes, views of parking lots, gas stations, fast-food joints, back yards or apartment buildings - riders on my line get their full $2.25 worth, IF they choose to look.

A Manhattan bound "A-Train" traversing the Swing Bridge over Jamaica Bay.

The first half of my trip in is aboveground, and the first few miles are on a stretch of track that parallels the Atlantic coastline. Some days, gray fog rolls in off the sea, making it tough to see anything, but other days, the view is crystal-clear -joggers on the seaside wooden boardwalk, waves crashing against the beach , ships out on the horizon, and even the northern part of the Jersey Shore, way off in the distance.

After several stops, the train turns north, away from the ocean, and crosses Jamaica Bay, a large inland bay separating the Peninsula from the southern coastline the Brooklyn/Queens mainland. Off in the distance is the quaint marine community of Broad Channel, once a fishing village, but even today, an unusual island town in the middle of the bay, reachable only by the train line and a vehicular causeway.

Snowy Egret at Jamaica Bay. Nature photography by Laura Deckelman
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