Saturday, December 27, 2014


     "Absence makes the Heart grow fonder."  Thomas Haynes Bayly

     The sun has been noticeably absent in December, the double-whammy victim of endless overcast skies and the long nights of winter solstice. On the bright side, the occasional nice day has been on the weekend, just when we need it most.
     Last Saturday I was doing chores in the predawn darkness but could see it had cleared. There was a slender crescent moon in the east, Jupiter shone bright in Leo, and the sky was full of stars that gradually faded as the morning pinkend.
     I did some quick math and came up with this equation: sun + Saturday = SAW. SAW is the Salem Art Works and I'ld been wanting to check out their new trail system so the decision was easy, "Let's do it."
     The trip to Salem was memorable.  Holly drove her blue Civic with standard shift and I rode shotgun. Unfortunately this is her puppy Lala's reserved seat and she wasn't about to give it up. So I had a much-larger-than lapdog on my lap and Holly had to negotiate Lala's butt just to shift the car.

     But it wasn't till we turned down Cary Lane that things started getting really weird. Everywhere you looked big, colorful objects were poking up out of the snow. Sculptures galore grace the SAW grounds, a former dairy farm complex of barns, sheds and fields. We checked in at the house and got an enthusiastic thumbs up to explore.

     Not quite sure where to go we walked along a lane with Beaver Brook dancing along one side and a colorful mural on the other. A short stroll brought us to a pond ringed with trippy, rainbow painted vintage campers, apparently an artist's encampment in summer. Today all was quiet but it's easy to picture the place verdant with life and activity a few months hence.

     We wound our way up Cary Hill following tracks in the snow past the Salem DPW building. Apparently you can drive up here at times and someone had made an ill-advised attempt just recently that appeared to end in the ditch. It's actually a nice walk up the steep hill. Just take it slow stopping often to catch your breath and enjoy the whimsical art that dots the hillside. Looking to the east you see a breathtaking creation of another sort - the frost white panorama of the high Taconics.
     From south to north I noted Grass Mountain, Red Mountain, Equinox (with it's trademark line to the summit), Bear and Egg Mountains and Merck Forest's Mt. Antone. This is a fine vantage point to sense the tremendous compressive forces that pushed these rocks up from the sea floor thousands of feet into the air and many miles from east to west. Such is the heavy lifting that tectonic energy is capable of when Earth's plates collide.

     Near the top of the hill, past an arrangement of orange girders that can only be described as monumental, is a big stone circle that must host amazing bonfires in season. I can imagine magical star-filled nights here with flames dancing and sparks flying. Salem nestles like a toy village far below.
     A little farther are some big maples that mark the transition from fields to woods and the beginning of the trail system. We didn't see where any people had been but did see tracks of deer, rabbit, squirrel, mice and birds. After circling the crest of the hill it was a short bushwhack thru open woods back down.  
     Lala had an excellent adventure at SAW and so did I. But within minutes of reaching the car she was sound asleep. On my lap, of course.


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