Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oct. 15: Bonus Berkshires autumn weekend


Late Saturday morning we drove to Bartholomew’s Cobble. It rained. I fell. The abstract:
The rain begins, gently at first, as we are walking Spero Trail along the Housatonic, the river that runs everywhere through the Berkshires.
We pause, wait under a pine tree, look for a more thickly leaved tree to keep off the rain – not so common this year – decide to go on. When I say “the rain is diminishing, let us go,” the rain increases. When I say “it will not be cold so long as the wind does not blow," the wind puffs out its cheeks and blows.” Still, we proceed until we come to the loop running through a field where river executes an oxbow curve. I propose double-timing through the open grass to the opposite bank; we start out. Ten seconds later the rain picks up. “Retreat!” I call. We turn back and head for the sparse cover of the half-leaved trees.
Under the trees we wait, hoping again for a slackening in the rain. Instead it comes harder. I’m for a full retreat now, I say. We make a plan to head inland and uphill and hope to find thicker tree cover there.
I run across a half-timbered bridge over a creek, exulting in my still youthful stride. Then it happens. A few strides farther on I take a running, tripping, tumbling, splattering fall in the rain. It happens when I look behind, over my shoulder, to shout some blithe observation passing for wit to Sonya – I have dashed ahead once we decided to outrun the rain, making a game of it – but fail to observe the protruding end of a heavy black branch, downed in some previous storm, sticking its thick finger onto the edge of the path as if determined still to play a role in the destinies of men. Thick and weighty enough that it doesn’t give when the outer edge of my sneakered foot comes into contact with it.
O’erbalanced, flying forward before taking in my predicament, I fend off the ground with both hands as if pushing off an attacker. I roll, pivoting my weight off my hands when the ground doesn’t give way, doesn’t behave like air or water, banging both knees against the earth and bouncing up. Nothing’s broke, I decide; no harm done. On my feet I look back for the cause of my downfall and spot the offending black branch, thick as a pike; first time I’ve seen it. I inspect myself. Mud on my knees and the tops of my sneakers. A stiffness in my hands and forearms.
Also, litter on the ground from my backpack. Somehow the zipper was closed tightly enough; it pops open and our picnic fare, apples and pears, slip along the grease-wet leaves. Sonya catches up and retrieves our goods, as I vouch for my survival.
It rains heavier, the skies lighten, then a sun shower has us looking for a sheltering tree once again; then the shower stops and we find ourselves under mostly bright skies just as we reach the last trail-turning. Do we risk going up to the summit after all? But by now we are wet and decide to take the path more chosen back to the car.
I have fallen in the Fall, but rise again.
Back in the Stockbridge cottage, we clean off our dirt-dusted fruit and eat it.