“Time goes, you say? Ah, no!
Alas, Time stays, we go.”
– Henry Austin Dobson
Time is a great gift – and it is finite one. In giving of yourself and spending time alone or with others, the world can be rediscovered – or at least remembered.
For example, my father (gone from this earth, always in my heart) used to take me mushroom hunting, along with his brother, my uncle, who seemed to just enjoy the outing. My father would park the car in places I have no idea how he found – dirt roads that narrowed to winding trails that led to hidden glens. The excitement built as we tramped along in the soft quiet, farther into the heart of the woods. Space and time stopped. The ground underfoot was soft with old leaves, pine needles. Only birds flitted overhead and a nearby brook burbled. The air was delicious, alive. Brown paper bags tucked under our arms, onward we’d go, dad leading the way. He was clear to explain what our quarry was – and that once spotted the mushrooms were not to be picked until he verified them.
Sometimes it is good to say no to the world’s pressures, and simply disconnect. Although mountains have eons of time before they are eroded, a human life span is decades at best.
Both my irreplaceable dad and my uncle are gone – along with my mother who simmered all those mushrooms into an earthy rich stew. However, the love for the crunch of leaves and woodsy aromas, a wonderland of hidden glades, rocky outcroppings, lines of old stone walls, sometimes an old cellar hole or deep depressions from huge fallen trees now sprouted up with small seedlings – these stay.
Dad had a friend who knew mushrooms and sometimes we’d stop by his house. I’d sit in the car and observe the conversations and animated interaction; am certain much more than mushrooms were discussed.
How I loved the hikes we’d take along trails that wound along the foot of a traprock mountain – led by my father, followed by children of various ages and usually a neighbor or cousin or both. (My mother got the gift of time to herself!)
Someone had used the wooden fence posts to set up targets – the resulting shards of glass scattered in patterns on the ground were mute evidence to hours of fun someone had setting up and knocking things down. Can’t do that anymore, at least not where it once was done.
The path took us all by hemlocks and huge boulders, old pastures to the left going in, the rock jumbles to the right. My older siblings would peel off to climb these massive rocks which I later learned were shorn off the mountain’s face. Dad always carried a pocket knife and an apple or pear plus some hard candies to share along the way. Being the youngest and with the shortest legs, it was work to keep up with the pack. Yet the smell of the woods and rock (yes, rock does has its own wonderful scent), the sights of old tangles of barbed wire and a heap of junk (a nearby farm’s bone yard) – well, the thrill is still fresh after decades have passed. Paradise on earth. All seen and experienced would be stored to emerge later in life – as studies of botany, geology, exploring and connecting what was recalled with questions about what it all meant. Travel around the U.S. and living in rural areas simply sharpened observations, brought connections into focus. Not all places had so much diversity; some places had no mountains. All that living that led to more wondering and reading – to learn why This was so.
“Besek Mountain, like much of the Metacomet Ridge, is composed of basalt, also called traprock, a volcanic rock. The mountain formed near the end of the Triassic Period with the rifting apart of the North American continent from Africa and Eurasia. Lava welled up from the rift and solidified into sheets of strata hundreds of feet thick. Subsequent faulting and earthquake activity tilted the strata, creating the cliffs and ridgeline of Besek Mountain. Hot, dry upper slopes, cool, moist ravines, and mineral-rich ledges of basalt talus produce a combination of microclimate ecosystems on the mountain that support plant and animal species uncommon in greater Connecticut. Besek Mountain is also an important raptor migration path. (See Metacomet Ridge for more information on the geology and ecosystem of Besek Mountain).” – Wikipedia
By the way, “Beseck” is thought to signify “black” in indigenous language -an apt description for this mountain and waters below – but the spelling of it varies depending on the source cited.
All things must pass. Including each of us. Time spent in the corporate media arena taught lessons of how it is good to be versatile and nimble, responding to change and adding new abilities to a tool box of life. Aviation, business, physics, medical technical experience, resort hotel, then a life reporting – all learning flows together like a braided river that deepens as it goes.
Life is one big circle; hold on to the good and let the awful stuff go. Writing is one way to keep the experiences, distilled into words. My mother’s gifts are many – present tense applies since she encouraged a voracious appetite for reading. Books came in the mail, they lined bookshelves at home, and there were frequent visits to the library.
Her imagination and creativity fueled her children; her example in fortitude and trying your best no matter what – noteworthy. Her experiences with horses quite likely led to my own love of equines. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate the threads in life even now; it is important just to say thank you often and hope the words still find her.
See the man in this photo from the East Lyme Historical Society? He is gone, the rock remains and you can read about it and other landmarks in a new book, Factories, Farms and Fishes Too: Historical Photographs of East Lyme Connecticut with more than 225 photos inside. It can be yours for $20 and is available at the Thomas Lee House; the East Lyme Public Library, 39 Society Rd.; the East Lyme Town Clerk, 108 Pennsylvania Ave., Niantic; the East Lyme Police Department, 278 Main Street; and the Book Barn, 41 West Main St., Niantic; call to check availability.
Re-reading Little Big Man by Thomas Berger – available in a special 50th anniversary edition with an introduction by Larry McMurty of Lonesome Dove fame – the main character Jack Crabb listens to his adopted father Old Lodge Skins say “the grass feeds the buffalo, the buffalo feeds me, when I die I feed the earth and the grass grows to feed the buffalo” – paraphrased, but you get the idea.
Have interviewed world leaders and CEOs and turned wrenches. Know that curiosity leads to interesting people and places. Keep your mind open – and follow where the thirst for learning leads.
In an ever-changing digital world, the craving for authentic content (entertainment or shared experiences) is a constant. New mixed realities and technology just add dimension to the how of telling one – or many.
“Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.” – Anonymous