Monument Mountain and the edge

Back out in that perfect country, the western quarter of Massachusetts, the Berkshires. Rolling hills and approachable mountains and gentle second growth forests. I feel I’m in a new-old America, I’m like an Adam here. There is no recession, no Tea Party, no Obama. Eternal gentle life and small towns where people know who they are, and chaste girls and boys who play basketball. This is somehow where the country always meant to be.

There on Sunday, we treated ourselves to Monument Mountain. The wind was cold and icy and unforgiving. The snow and ice were thicker the higher you ascended. Fierce, the way I like it. The trees like bare poles on a ship awaiting a storm. That dry crusty snow crunch under my boots was encouraging. I couldn’t get the cheesy music from “Where Eagles Dare” out my mind.

There at the small and perilous top, where there were hardy trees of different sizes to cling to, we didn’t’ approach the edge. Too icy and we lacked crampons. There was an opening in the trees, a perfect viewing spot for the idyllic Berkshire countryside (minus the highway and cruddy commercial sprawls). Below was a drop of 40 feet—the first fall, and then a worse drop even further below. But the view was open and wide. It was a prize. We approached it VERY cautiously.

There was the all—the absolute edge we are seeking. The thrill, the pleasure and fear.

We took our pictures and regarded it for a moment. It is rare to be so close to an absolute–but it was a palpable absolute to me just then.

And then back down to the mortals.

The mortals, it turned out, weren’t so bad (excepting the barbarian who left a used prophylactic behind him in the parking lot). Someone found my Shuffle up near the top—I had been listening to Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall,” which, to me, reads like a contemporary novel. In the rush and bustle at the top, I didn’t notice the device come off. Sure enough, when we drove back, he saw us looking for it in the parking lot. The fellow climber gave it to me, no questions asked.

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