07/24/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Song and the River

My perfect New York day has everything to do with kayaking and my favorite song, an old one by Emmy Lou Harris called "Boulder to Birmingham."
Years ago, I started a magazine called "New York Woman." At one of our parties, Betty Buckley was the featured entertainer and her final song of the evening was the one I just mentioned. I'd never heard it performed live before, and I sat frozen in my seat as her ethereal voice perfectly captured its melancholy and yearning.
On a day in early May some years later, my friend Becky called and asked if I'd like to go kayaking with her on the Hudson River. Though I'd never kayaked before, I'm a good athlete and figured kayaking was just another sport that would come pretty easily. Besides, I have watched the Hudson River go by for most of my life, and I decided it was time to get to know it better.
The currents were strong and I struggled against them. Tankers went by and I was swooped up in waves as tall as brownstones. Surely, I thought, mine will be one of those bodies dredged out of the Hudson weeks from now. When I finally pulled my kayak out of the water, my knees were shaking, but I felt euphoric. I was now kin to the river, not just another voyeur.
I stumbled out of the 79th Street Boat Basin in time to meet my friend, Victoria, for an early dinner at Sara Beth's. The restaurant was empty at that hour, save for the woman in the booth next to ours---Betty Buckley. There were hugs and kisses and I reminded her that she'd sung my favorite song at our last meeting and how stunning her version of it was.
"I'll sing it for you now," she said.
And there, in Sara Beth's, as I sat in jeans still damp from the river, Betty Buckley sang my favorite song to me in full voice.
Even in New York, days don't get much better than that one.