I run myself thin and I return home – a New England forest ride that ends on a ferry, the natural boundary of my childhood. The Adirondacks are a bygone place, a mossy rotwood of faded granite, crumbling mountains and thick cedar forests. It is damp and bold and lonely, smooshed along the forgotten northern buffer of our grand old country. It is simple and lovely with hints of 1940 Americana or is it 1910? – depends on which back road you take – and that will always be the pace. There is a silence in those mountains that knows no era, a sound vacuum that threatens fixation.
On the eastern boundary rests Lake Champlain, the plunging reversal of the high peaks and welcomer of the region. Sunset clouds stretch open to Vermont and then there are the misty Iroquois mornings that beckon to the paddle & rod. The islands of Champlain preserve some of the finest untouched wilderness in the region – fewer travelers – and one would find difficulty in spotting a single piece of litter along the overgrown trails of say – Valcour Island. With the exception of a few yachting Québécois anchored in the coves, Champlain remains a pristine secret, and let it stay that way.
I leave these places to get my mind firing. I return to walk myself thick.
I sit on the carpet of my old room. I spread out every one of my bothersome nuances – acquired elsewhere – and think to iron them. I paw through books, photo albums, and leave the window open. The sounds that come in are those of wind and lake and leaves. They do well to remind me of where I am. It was during one of these sessions a few years back that I discovered a great treasure. A family heirloom. Bored and tinkering I began pulling books from shelving and landed on two with nondescript covers. They were my mother’s scrapbooks, dated back to her high school years spent on the same lake, a mile down the shore, circa 1978.
They are my mother, freckled in her one story home, clipping photographs out of Adirondack Life, bored, passing time by pairing poems with pictures. They are 1970’s teenager in ADK sans cell phone, internet, television, living in one-land-line-in-the-house-ville. I am suffocated by the thought of the isolation and yet I know it well. It was, after all, what brought me to the bookshelf in the first place and it is, after all, exactly what I am doing here with this blog. I hold my mother’s liberation in my hands as I work on my own. There exists one main difference. She hand wrote every word that went into the books, the ink still fading, and she cut every picture to size, a tedium that I imagine brought with it a welcomed contemplation and privacy. The books are escapes, scraps of her, and they are my strongest link back to that time and that girl, the woman who I owe the most. Simply, they are the most beautiful objects that I am allowed to hold. What do they do? They speak.
“There are periods of time
When things aren’t going right
Times when all the plans you’ve
Made might appear to be
Out of reach…
But as I have come to know,
The darkest and most
Difficult moments actually
Signal the end of troubles
And forecast better days ahead.
From our saddest moments we
Are able to gain strength
Confidence and courage and the
The knowledge that a
Brighter day is just over
~E. Lori Milton
I treasure this day, this lake, and you.
I Love You,