My husband came with me on this sunny but cold late fall day on a short hike up to Westkill Falls. It is only about a mile into the woods, but he had never been here before. This waterfall is one of my favorite “secret”spots. The water is crystal clear and bone numbing cold. The trail is at the top of the falls, so you have to scramble down a steep cliff to get to the water. At its base is a is a small pool ranging from about thigh deep directly under the cascade to ankle deep where the water continues into rapids downstream. One side of the falls is a narrow chute where the water tumbles noisily over the rocks. The other side is a rippling translucent curtain free falling from about 20 feet up creating a veil that hides a moss covered grotto on a ledge behind it. There is also a perfectly flat rock for lounging on where I like to sit to read or dream. I have spent several summer solstices relaxing here, although it has been more than a year since my last visit. After exploring the falls, we kept hiking up to Diamond Notch, passing the lean-to along the way. We explored the area around the lean-to as well, as it is situated on the edge of a steep gully that works it way down from the notch. Up at the top, the trail edges along a steep slope covered by rock slide. It loos as if the earth could shift at any moment, but it is fascinating to be on one side of a mountain and see where the water would flow one way, then take two steps and be on the other side of a mountain and see how the water would flow in the opposite direction. One can stand at the beginning of two drainage basins at the same time! It’s exciting like standing in two states at the same time, but a state line is often an arbitrary phantom line created by people, whereas water drainages are created by topography, and erosion, forces beyond us that dwarf the human scale. I am humbled by the awesome grandeur of it all.
My husband eats oatmeal for breakfast almost every morning as part of his own personal choices for health living. If I eat breakfast, it’s whatever I scrounge, sometimes I may even cook some eggs and toast. On some mornings, I give in to the oatmeal. It is one of the ultimate cold weather comfort foods. On an overcast shivery blustery day when the sky is spitting sleet, the grass crackles underfoot, and the wind is full of malice, these are the perfect mornings to keep the flannel pajamas on, bundle up in a fleece robe, curl up in front of a warm fire, drink a hot beverage, and eat oatmeal for breakfast. I like mine with raisins and walnuts with a large spoonful of molasses dribbled on top and sitting in a little pool of almond milk to cool it off enough to eat. Hmmmmmmmm. Winter morning goodness.
On our way home, my husband driving, me sitting in the passenger seat. We are passing through mostly open rolling hills of farmland, a few scattered houses, barns, and dilapidated out buildings. Here and there are stands of leafless trees standing like dark sentinels outlined against the brighter sky. The sun has set below the dark purple blue black distant mountains on the horizon. Most of the sky is covered in a high thin layer of mottled clouds. In the west where the sun disappeared is a clear band of once blue but now glowing bright yellow orange, burning a fine line edge where the cloud starts a blinding golden orange. From there the colors radiate outward across the whole cloud bank cover most of the visible sky overhead. The western area is deep deep red orange spreading and shifting hue to pretty in pink over in the south east. These colors stream out in wide bands, with thinner layers of bruised purple and dark grey in between. As we drive, black images are silhouetted against the immense expanse of sunset colors; houses an other structures, trees with leafless branches, hillsides. As time passes, the eastern sky fades to darkness, but the western sky doesn’t give up easily, night has a fierce struggle claiming the sky from the intense colors. Even after full dark has fallen, there is a faint red glow where the sun fell out of sight. My husband and I got to watch the whole event as we drove through the thickening darkness, and into the glorious orange sunset.
I picked my amazing husband up from the train station tonight. He had been down in New York City with his dad for a couple of days. The Amtrak station is about an hour from home, and his train came in at 9pm. Neither of us had been up this late at night for quite a while. It is a clear night, cold and serene. At home, when we stepped out of the car, I glanced up at the stars. WOW! I stopped talking, stopped moving, and just gazed up, mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of the crystalline night sky. That deepest blue black of outer space, and the millions of twinkling silver stars, so close you can reach up and almost touch them. My husband looked up too and took a few chilly moments to stargaze as well. I pointed up arcing my arm across asking if he could see the thicker band of stars. He replied yes. I told him that it’s the Milky Way. We are looking into the heart our galaxy, staring through all the other spiral arms between us and the center. That is why there are more stars in this band across the night sky. We are seeing space and time, eternally spiraling, spinning into the abyss of nothingness, filling it with pure light.
My husband is traveling down to the city for a few days to help out his father. The last few times he drove, it took hours just to get through the city to Brooklyn, so this time he is taking the train. I drove him down to Hudson and waited at the Amtrak station with him. Although I used to work in Hudson and had spent some time at the park, I had never been in the station. It’s small and quaint, old time train station architecture, dark wood and rounded molding. There was some intriguing photographs done by a local artist hanging on the walls and a news stand in one corner run by a volunteer, the money raised going to a local cause. Being mid morning, and a classically beautiful day, we sat on the newly painted colorful benches lining the fence along the tracks. The sky was an infinite expanse of impossible blue, the sun gloriously perched just above the roof line of the station. The air was clean and crisp, but not too cold and warming up. Birds chirped and flitted around in the leafless dense branches of the ornamental trees growing through pavement cutouts in the small plaza. We sat side by side conversing in low tones as others started gathering for the imminent train arrival. It approached from the north with a whistle blast, screeching brakes, and whooshing air, slowed to a stop, disgorged a couple of passengers, and all the embarking travelers lined up to board. We said our goodbyes and I walk over to my car in the lot facing the tracks. As the train pulled away, I waved. I have no idea where he was sitting, by I did see movement through one of the heavily tinted windows. Someone was waving back as the train gathered speed, heading south, under a big open crystal blue sky.
I want to make some applesauce, so while we are visiting a neighbor down the road, I talk my husband into picking some apples. Our kind neighbor suggests we use her apple picker poles and start with the trees in her yard. Many of the apples have already fallen and are becoming critter food. She says deer and bear are in the yard regularly to eat them. While we visited, I saw chipmunks and squirrels munching on them through the picture windows. We get a canvass grocery bag out of the car and a poles from the storage shed. My husband has a grand time perfecting the technique for capturing a perfect apple high up the tree in the basket and flicking the pole to separate it from the stem. I jump to grasp lower hanging fruit and point to ones out of reach. We quickly fill the bag to overflowing with the rosy ripe fruit. We eat several as we pick, laughing, and enjoying the crisp fall day. I go pick a few crab apples from a sour apple tree for a spark of tartness in the applesauce. Arms and bag full, we say our goodbyes and I bring the bounty home and throw it in the crock-pot to make my wild applesauce.
Amazing, bright, colorful day; golden sunshine, brilliant red and orange leaves, glowing yellow and coral leaves, whispering on the trees and tumbling along the ground. My husband and I took a walk up the hollow to enjoy the Indian summer day. I pick up flashy leaves that catch my eye, twirl them between my fingers to watch the vivid colors swirl. We meander up the road, arm in arm, wistful smiles, content in each others company. At the bridge, I let all my collected leaves go, studying them as they fall, twisting, colors flashing in the sunlight, gliding to soft landings on the moving water. Tiny boats floating quickly into the riffles, sinking below the surface as they tumble in the current and continue downstream. We stroll up the hill on the dirt road, listening to birds, conversing about nothing in particular, a pleasurable walk on a lovely day, through the calming forest, with my one and only.