We live in a geologic bowl under Cascade Mountain. Cascade is a friendly peak, one of the famous “46,” the highest mountains in New York State, but it is an easy two-hour hike with beautiful views in all directions from its rounded rock summit.
When you drive home from town, Cascade appears on the horizon between bends in the road, a familiar face. From the school, it is a comforting bulk looming over campus. In almost thirty years, I have watched the moon rise over Cascade and the sunset stain it pink with alpenglow so often that even I, who am not drawn to the drama of mountains, feel deeply affectionate. I was very happy to realize we would have a view of Cascade from our back acres at the farm.
Long ago the face of Cascade was marked by two small landslides. Most people pictured the slide scars forming a T lying on its side. As a proofreader, I always identified the marks as: ! — an exclamation point followed by an em dash. You can see the marks faintly in the snow in Lucy’s photo above, taken in January.
Now the torrential rains of Irene have wrought changes to Cascade’s dear old face. You can still see my exclamation point and em dash near the peak, but the heavy water has ripped massive new landslides that follow the ravines of the mountain.
The climbers and backcountry skiers here are excited by the new slides. However, for me changes in familiar things are always rather hard.
I know that with all the local devastation it’s practically criminal to be nostalgic or sentimental about the face of a mountain. Still, changes feel as if they are coming too swiftly in too many areas of my life. I wish I could visit my friend Sue in heaven, lie down on her carpeted office floor, and ask her what she thinks. She’d say something brisk and astringent, I’m sure, and that would make me laugh.
I suppose I will adjust to the new look soon.