Thirty years ago, right around now, when the spring had announced itself in birdsong and melted snow, my friend C. and I jumped into his red* convertible and headed for the mountains. Damp air enhances scents, like the fertile musky smell of cowshit** that tells you that now, now, finally, winter is over. The pale grey road wound uphill. The trees were in bud, all the pale greens stepping out to wave hello to us, and goodbye. We drove onward, with neither map*** nor plan, but only a sense that spring requires a journey and a breeze ruffling your hair. On the edge of the road, a brown sign proclaimed “Texas Falls” even though we were deep in Vermont. We left the car, strolled among the trees, every footstep sending up a waft of dead pine needles. Our feet made no sound**** so the waterfall never heard us coming over its quiet splashing roar. The sun, so golden between the leaves, came through them with emerald light, both water and sunlight spraying us with blessings.
*Was the convertible red? Was it black or blue? Do I recall it as red because of the intensity with which the mountains were painting themselves green?**Herbivores’ doings smell like grass and wildflowers and the mud that comes from mixing summer and snow and the long grey of January and February, and then adding sunlight and warmth.***When they tell you the map is not the mountain, they are right. Maps are conquistadors of the fallen, flattening and denaming the things that know for themselves what they are. The worn folds also erase the world in lines that intersect like a****Sounds in the forest are hushed, like a library whose books are stones and birdsong.