I really ought to get out more. Even if out means going from a cabin to a cottage with an adjacent bungalow as I did this weekend.
It was the gray, cool weather of late summer, more like fall. The Catskill Mountains. The cottage had a quaint disposition, the pet decorating project of antiquarian friends of friends. Charm bloomed in corners. On side tables, one of which held a seal enraptured with a ball.
Windowsills offered various small collections.
Dramatically tarnished old mirrors lined the walls.
We brought zinnias, butterscotch bars.
Neil, the host, grilled chicken over wood. There was sweet aged bourbon for some. For me, mango lemonade. A funny kind of tea, milky oat tops. Was it restorative in some way or just cut up grass in bags? Hard to say but worth gently debating. What music should we listen to? Everything sounded good.
A fire glowing in the stove, a healthy stack of wood.
Conversation about our kids growing up, finding their feet. About ourselves, still finding our feet. Will we ever find them? Monopoly and pet play.
The shaggy, gloomy, romantic Catskills offered up their forests and creeks.
Girdled, Neil the arborist says is the term for roots that entwine themselves like this. What about those trees, though, that entwine themselves as though in love? No special name, they just are.
Mushrooms gleamed against the mulch.
When the woods were so delightful we couldn’t stand any more, we took a drive through the weathered local community, Livingston Manor. An ancient graveyard, simply marked, appeared on Creamery Road.
Plain, as was the cemetery’s groundskeeping shed.
Something else simple appeared out of nowhere — a staunch old wood covered bridge dating to the late 1800s.
Sometime in the long afternoon I saw my friend Suzanne sitting by the fire, taking a pensive break from all the charm, the activity, the pets and children. The yap of conversation.
I thought of one of my favorite poems, perfect any day but especially for this place, the person, the moment: When You Are Old, by W.B. Yeats.
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.