Abbey Pond

Once More to the Lake

As the end of the summer term approached, Jax and I stole one more afternoon to head up to the high lake. At the base of the hike, there’s a waterfall, and as you head on up, you periodically cross the streams that join up to feed the cascade far below you.

One of those streams comes out of Abbey Pond itself, and it’s home to dozens of Black-winged Damselflies like this one. Generally, I’m no good at identifying insects, and damselflies are particularly problematic. However, the Black-winged variety is easy, since it’s the only species with, well, black wings.

“Summertime, oh summertime, pattern of life indelible, the fade proof lake, the woods unshatterable, the pasture with the sweet fern and the juniper forever and ever, summer without end.”

              -E. B. White
                “Once More to the Lake”

We stopped off a few days later for one last romp through the mountain meadows before we went back to Connecticut for the fall. We were sad to leave behind the beauty of the places that welcomed us like home, but we were also overjoyed to reunite our little family and to visit the familiar Connecticut woods, meadows, lakes, and sofas that have treated us both so well.

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High Up and Wet

“The water, indeed, reflects heaven because my mind does; such is its own serenity, its transparency and stillness.”

                -Henry David Thoreau
                “Solitude in Concord”

Usually, I keep our hike locals a bit of a secret, since I don’t like the idea of our favorite secret places getting exposed on the internet. I have visions of dozens or hundreds of dog owners with different levels of commitment to dog training and the environment showing up and ruining the place.

It may be a bit elitist of me, and it may be an entirely unfounded fear, but there it is. This locale, however, I’ll mention, since I got it myself from a book of dog-friendly hikes of New England.

This is Abbey Pond, a small lakelet nestled in the Green Mountains, twelve hundred feet above and two miles out from the trailhead.

I actually came up here three times this week: once with my folks, which resulted in the entry “Keep Encouraged;” once with a friend; and once with just Jax. I was just so happy to find the place on that first go, and so enthralled by the wild, secluded feel of the mountains around us, that I wanted to go again and again.

Today finally graced us with better weather and a reliably blue sky, and Jax was happy enough to pose for me here and there, after he had his chance to swim and dig a bit, of course. I realize that I have a real shortage of pictures in which Jax is dry. Perhaps in the fall, I’ll endeavor to snap a few shots of him as he plays in the fallen leaves, but for now, I just don’t have the heart to keep him out of the water just to suit my photographic fancies.

But anyway, for now, I’ll be happy that he’s so happy, and I’ll continue to hold the camera high and away from him when he comes over for a check-in and shake-off after he’s been chasing frogs and burying his muzzle in the black mud.

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Keep Encouraged

“I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow
     from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me
     under your boot-soles.

(Photo credit: Donna Tippy)

“You will hardly know who I am
     or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you
And filter and fibre your blood.

(Photo credit: Donna Tippy)

“Failing to fetch me at first keep
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”

          -Walt Whitman
          “Song of Myself (52)”

I’m not sure what it was about a muddy dog exploring the side of a remote lake high up in the Green Mountains that made me think of Whitman’s poem. There’s a sense to it that long after we die, we may be found, in this important, real, fundamental way, in the earth we have returned to.

And something about this beautiful, silly dog, plunging his face into the rich mud, made me think that mingling ourselves with these open spaces isn’t all that different from the mingling that will take place when we die. After all, aren’t we dying all the time, even when we’re most alive, flinging mud and rot and life around us in a circle?

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