by Ira Smith
The private road from the Ausable Club, just off highway 73 in Keene Valley stretches 3.5 miles to the foot of Lower Ausable Lake. It snakes the narrow Ausable River valley, gracefully following the sharp twists and turns of Gil Brook’s bouldered and graveled streambed.
For decades synergism has taken place between Mother Nature and the woodsman, locked in cooperative venture, gradually and persistently crafting a work of art as each new feature is blended into the complex design.
Long ago, man hacked out a wagon trail; the course of least resistance gave it its initial form. Muddy ruts in native earth were cut deep by steel wheels. Decay of virgin tree stumps, and construction of cuts and fills, provided coarse refinement. Later, rubber tired trucks on mix of sand and clay, the tracks smoothed and firmed as speeding wheels deposited pebbled windrows on the shoulders and center crown.
Adjacent trees reached across the road, entwining long arms and fingers, and thatched a canopy. High racks on fast trucks acted as hedge trimmers for the tunnel walls and ceiling. Running cedar and miniature hemlock adorned the banks of cuts; soft ferns and grasses blanketed the slopes of fills.
In late October, leaves fell from the canopy exposing segments of stained glass blue. In the chill of early morning, mist from the brook anchored tilted sunbeams to the road bed, compelling me to step around them. The rush of air from occasional vehicles placed intricate mosaics of red and gold along the shoulders and crown, ornamental tiles glued in place.
Artistic synergism, eternal, as Mother Nature and the woodsman, take turns retouching the autumn display.
In the September 30th post Change I asked for submissions.
Ira sent in this piece.