“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said my friend Ted, visiting from Arizona.
When I didn’t respond, he repeated himself. “It doesn’t get any better than this”–echoing some of the first words I ever wrote on this blog.
“Yeah,” I replied, “when somebody else is doing all the work.”
A bit snarky, Ted. I apologize. Even in this little out-of-the-way piece of heaven, it’s possible to get over-stressed in high tourist season when you actually have to wait a while before pulling out of the driveway, and when you can’t find a parking spot at the hardware store.
The worst of it is when, like so many other people in town, you’re so busy helping out with the events that make this town great in the summer (like Neversweat Rendezvous this month and everything that will happen around the total eclipse in August) that you can’t get around to the pleasures that brought you here in the first place. It gets overwhelming. I want to escape.
Back in New York, when I’d get to this mental place during a work day, I’d head off at lunch hour toward the riverfront, where the sky opens out, and look over at New Jersey or Manhattan. This time, at my workday’s end, I deliberate briefly and decide to go up to the other side of the splendid view out our own window. I put on my boots, call the dog, and start the long drive up to the top of the valley.
Stopping at a logging road I never noticed before, I park and step out of the car. Immediately I smell horses and notice their tracks. Some lucky folks are off on a pack trip.
The road is gentle and shaded. It takes us downhill toward a large meadow. Beyond the sounds of flies and cattle, the dog and I are completely alone–until the mosquitoes find us, and we turn back.
It’s been a good walk, and I’m much calmer, but I’m not finished yet. I turn the car back uphill, away from home. The road switches back and forth, and keeps rising.
After a long while, the forest falls away and there they are: The same mountains we can see from our window, but so much closer, so huge and so rugged.
The road would end soon, and then there’s only wilderness. I wish I could walk all the way across, but I can’t. I’m not nearly strong or brave enough.
I think of the Native Americans and Mountain Men who did cross them. I think of geology and eternity. I breathe in the clear mountain air, and notice the lupine and the noisy bees.
Time to head back; there’s salad to be made for dinner. I pause to count my blessings. Here’s where I go to get away from the place others come to as a getaway.
As he said, it doesn’t get any better than this.
© Lois Wingerson, 2017
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