back at it

Memorial Day weekend, CT section 21 (Rt. 2 to Bolton Valley) and CT section 22 (Bolton Valley to Trapp Family Lodge)

On the drive this morning I watch the mist climb up the side of a mountain and think about how science explains it while poetry describes it. I have no words for what I am seeing — neither scientific nor poetic.  

It is 6:09 as I pull out with hot coffee in the cup holder and Lewie in the passenger seat. Fog creeps up the east slope through evergreen, birch, maple, and beech from its settled spot above wet grass on the Hancock side of the mountain. Driving north the fog becomes thick enough to hit the brakes a little, just in case. The sun on my right breaks through and I glance left in time to see a fogbow just off to the left, near the cow barn on Gene’s Road. I can’t remember ever seeing a fogbow before. Didn’t know it was a thing until just now.  The light is green-yellowing the just leafed out trees. We see this again on the run a few hours later, the fog long gone, but the green-yellow quite bold, especially behind the white and charcoal birch torsos towering out of the ferns.

Climbing up out of the late spring woods, the seasons go backwards. We begin at late spring, but soon find ourselves in a place and time of several weeks ago. Early spring, muddy, unfurled fiddlehead ferns and still flattened brown leaves only recently unburdened of deep snow. A long slog uphill and we find ourselves, panting, in late winter. Snow pack. Softened, but not letting go just yet. The air is cool and we are glad for long sleeves, despite sweating from the long uphill run. Up and up and up, gaining altitude, somewhere between 2500 and 3300 feet, where things have greened, optimistically,  despite the stubborn snow. Water is running and footing is uncertain and sneakers sink deep into the cold muck.

Up and down the ridge it is an obstacle course of mud and rock and blow-downs and still snow and pine needle carpeting. It smells amazing. The wind slithers between bare limbs, pushing balsam into our nostrils. Lungs and legs labor, everything in working order. I can’t believe it sometimes, how fucking amazing it is to be running up mountains. To be alive.

You’re bleeding, Laura says, gesturing with her chin toward my knee. We pull out the map, more necessary for topographic curiosity than anything else. We swipe at our calves and the backs of our knees for ticks and gulp water and breathe deeply, blown away by the view. Amazed at our bodies that carried us here. Marveling at our lives and that we are allowed this kind of woods-frolicking.

Later, after a porcupine and a trout lily and trillium filled descent back into late spring and a long easy downhill we are — in late May — feeling full on summer. Long sleeves are put away.  The gorge off our right shoulder tells us stories about cold dips on hot July days and we revel in how easy it is to just run, forever, on trails through the woods.