Sorry, but I’m still seeking shade these days, still looking for the cool side of the pillow. I have it firmly affixed in my brain that the hottest weeks of the year are always at the end of July and into the beginning of August, because that’s when our beloved day-care providers always took their summer vacation, back in the day. They knew when they least wanted to be in charge of prickly toddlers in wet Pampers. Anyhow, it’s still only mid-July, and there’s still a lot of red on the weather map, so I suspect we’ve got more of this to get through before the heat and humidity take a nosedive. In the department of small favors, I’m thankful that I’ve got no diaper rash to deal with these days.
Meanwhile, here’s a little bit more photographic proof about why my reservoir walk works for me. For starters, there’s the getting there through the big pine trees.
I love this piece of city living that, every now and then, smells just like home—home being a favorite path along the Carrabassett that went from our ski camp to our neighbors’ camp. While our place was cramped and crowded, the Holloways was much grander, and far more spacious. They had a big stone fireplace in the living room, with little benches to either side—inglenooks, I learned later on—with a wooden box full of comic books that mom Muriel kept just for me: Richie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Archie and Jughead. Oh, how I loved to sneak through the woods to their camp, and read their stash of comics by the glow of the gas lantern….
So now, on springtime days especially, when the snow is melting and everything’s moist and fresh, the walk down through the pine trees to the reservoir sends me right back to that path between my cabins in the woods. It’s the smell of earth and pine combined, not the pretty version that gets sewn into sachets, but the kind you actually smell, when the seasons are shifting. That’s where I go in my head on the way to my reservoir walk, in springtime.
These days, it’s just the shade that entices. Shade, and these little nickels and dimes of sunlight shining through. No moist pine-y smells, though. It’s hot and dry, but blessedly out of the sun.
Here’s something quite remarkable. A bench, made of speckled red granite, engraved with a passage from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. No one knows who delivered it to this spot, or why. It’s been here for almost 20 years, marking this crossroad in the woods. It would have been good if the donor had provided a bit more foundational structure; the legs of the bench aren’t anchored to anything, so the whole thing has tipped over time. Hard to be a secret donor without skipping small details like adequate site-prep, I guess.
Over time, the words have gotten harder and harder to read, in part due to the pine needles and other debris that catch in the lettering, and in part because, while beautiful, the variations in the stone itself competes for attention with Woolf’s words. Plus it’s in the shade—ah, shade!—with just those little spots of sunshine wiggling through. I’ve determined that it’s really quite impossible to get an adequate photograph of the quote, so any of you who I haven’t dragged out to FP to see this little miracle in the pines, call me, I’ll give you the fifty cent tour.
One of the nice things about the actual path around the reservoir in summer is the overgrowth that hides the chain link fence. Of course there has to be a fence, it’s a public water supply. There’s sternly worded signage too, reminding us of that fact. But there’s a pleasant softness that comes with the greening of that barrier in mid-summer. There are long stretches where you can practically forget you’re walking around a body of water. Come November, the circuit is starkly obvious, but now, it’s shadowy, a sort of fuzzy cool.
There’s also a lifetime supply of poison ivy around that fence, and along every byway that connects to that path. Again, because it’s our water supply, the keepers of the reservoir aren’t inclined to spray anything toxic on the invasive crawling plant. That, and I suppose it could be construed as a deterrent to mischief–but that presumes that anyone who might think of climbing over the fence would actually know what poison ivy looks like. It’s amazing to me how many people never got the “Leaves of three, let them be” lecture. I’ve given up on bare-legged runners with earbuds, but when I see folks with small children out of their strollers, I am obliged to give them the quick girl scout lesson.
And when I’m headed back to my car, back through the shade and the pines and the poison ivy, I am reminded that I am in a city by the outbuilding graffiti. Something there is that makes a wall need to be tagged, I guess.