A Day’s Risings

My morning started in a tangled web of light and lilypads, grass and pines, one that is weaved in a deceitful way, but also without any intent to deceive. It is easy to skip them and ride on to the “‘better views” or the “High Peaks”. Aldo Leopold noted in A Sand County Almanac- “Like ions shot from the sun, the week-enders radiate from every town, generating heat and friction as they go.”. Though not a peak bagger, I used to be one of those weekenders. But now I have time on my side. And I hope the tide is too.

It is pre-dawn in the bog, as if someone has scattered labradorite dust in the air, a spectacle that would rapidly disappear with the rising sun, a blue abscondee that vows to blanket the marsh again in another turn of the celestial rock. There is hardly a chance of anyone showing up here anytime soon, and so I let Moose, the dog, run off leash. It was a mistake! Moose sensed the presence of the geese before I heard their honk, and disappeared in the swamp. After a few minutes of frantic calling, he returned with a dejected look, covered in mud and sticks, while the geese soared in the first light of the day.

I decide to walk around the bog with Moose, now on a leash, and watch the early profusion of lilypads. Spring was on steroids, catalyzed by the intense heat over the past few days. It is supposed to rain later in the day. I have plans to hike a nearby mountain but I need to decide on bringing Moose. He is anxious about thunderstorms and I am anxious about losing him if he breaks the leash and runs away.

It is later in the day. We are hiking the mountain. We both decided to face our respective anxieties today. I can neither confirm nor deny whether the puppy eyes of abandonment while I was leaving for the hike was a factor in the decision. Fortunately, there are no signs of thunderstorms yet. Moose is happily running along the trail and playing with sticks. Soon, we reached the summit just as the clouds burst in the horizon.

Mountains and ravines stretching as far as the eyes can gleam, a downpour here, a piercing shaft of light there; how does a thunderstorm decide which range gets the growl, and who deserves the lightning, and who can bask in the fresh rain: what is the right word for a mix of petrichor and petrifying, and if there is one, I would wish upon each drop of the rain that it is not a noun, nor an adjective, but a verb, for I would want to actively partake in it.

This is a place to breathe, in the storm, and the calm, in the rain, and the sun; I have been to many breathtaking places but here, on this Adirondack mountain, I have come not to have my breath taken away, but to be able to breathe- slowly and freely.

And Moose thinks the same too- he did not run away. After he finished cooling off on a small puddle at the summit, he has been very busy with a stick of maple that he carried from the forest below. He did look up and around every time there was thunder. But there were more pressing matters- the maple stick will not chew itself.

These mountains, this dog, that distant rain, those lilies in the valley- they are my story. I photograph them, I write them for myself. I do not create in the hopes of a legacy or a revenue stream, though I would welcome both if they come my way. Too many years have passed in finding it. Mary Oliver wrote- “I ask you again: if you have not been enchanted by this adventure – your life- what would do for you?”. I am prepared to be enchanted by this place for a lifetime. And I only hope that I am allowed to be so.

The storm has now reached this mountain. Our mountain. We decide to head down, through the forest lush in all shades of green- “…even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:25-34), while the rain keeps company.

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