Alone at the top of Algonquin Peak I stare at the surrounding Adirondack Mountains. Numerous peaks emerge from the thick eastern air.
Plans to share this view with her crumbled when, a mile from the top, I allowed a misunderstanding to escalate to frustration. Without patience I asked for space and she quickly gave it.
Above the haze, where the sky darkens to a radiant blue, a refreshing wind is coming from the south, drying my damp skin. I would prefer to sit calmly, like the lichen, moss and grass, among the surfacing Moon Rock, anorthosite, but I can’t. I share this with no one.
I never knew I would be so deeply connected to another.
Standing, I allow my eyes to scan the forest. At first they see fir and spruce, but soon random cedars make their way into view. Maple, alder and hemlock grow lower with the occasional highlight of birch. Add the water, that seeps from everywhere, supplying the lakes and slow rivers below, and it creates the growth that mixes with the decay producing the peat that softens the forest’s floor. My imagination tells me this is the smell of the air.
I dreamt of forests and mountains like these as a child. Trails shrouded from the summer sun by the canopy of trees. Vistas reserved only for the highest peaks.
I never knew the beauty back east until I met her.
The speed of life has us both raw. Play, work, soccer, play, gymnastics, day camps, play and more work. The summer has been a blur. Simple encounters have devolved to only reacting. Attempts to ease her burden are viewed to be controlling. Vocalizing desires, they get flipped and taken as accusations. Coming to be with family and visiting her home has been a welcome break, but I am still not listening.
At an elevation of 5,114 feet above sea level, in a protected wilderness unmatched anywhere else in the nation, my life slows down. My thoughts are of the native tribes that hunted these grounds and the settlers spreading from Lake Champlain. I take a moment and imagine their stories. History flows out in every direction.
The glistening water of Heart Lake catches my eye. Lake Placid lies just beyond.
This is her history.
Instead of empathy, compassion and affection, I have been distant, directing and concocting solutions to problems that don’t need solving.
Down to Wright Peak, I hope that she is there. She is not.
Back under the canopy, over the stones, roots and past bunchberries and honeysuckle, I find her near the trailhead, sitting softly on a rock.
We are still out of tune.
The silence weighs heavily in the air, but for the first time in days, maybe even weeks, I am listening.
I hear water moving over stone, sunlight pouring down, trees whispering with the wind and her strong heart, beating close to mine.