Monday, October 31, 2011

The Road Oft Traveled

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.


  1. Wonderful, graceful images of a place that changes ever so slightly with each paragraph. By the end, I felt that if I were ever to go to this place, I would know all about it.

  2. OK. This is a test. This is only a test. I have writte two appreciative comments on Ira's writing and both have been lost in cyberspace. Here goes ...

  3. Hi Ira,
    Thanks for the marvelous piece. Your vivid description drew me into each frame!
    Just wondering here - is the road mentioned in the beginning a "paved" road?
    Although I can easily visualize the sunbeams through the mist, sunbeams and anchored together are a bit bumpy for me.
    This lovely piece on change and synergy has a sum greater than its parts!
    P.S. I really liked your last piece too! The acuity of your description always comes back to me!

  4. Lovely discriptions Ira. I walked with you and thought of how I missed the sparkle and crispness of this tooo wet fall. A walk in the woods is a meditation.

  5. Ira,

    I loved this gentle, thoughtful walk through the woods! So many wonderful visuals - I just have a few suggestions for you to think about: Instead of "synergism" in the second paragraph how about "For decades Mother Nature and the woodsman have lived side by side . . ." In the 4th paragraph maybe "High racks on fast trucks became . . . (instead of acted as). In the 5th paragraph I loved "stained glass blue" - so much more vivid and alive than sky blue. Also in that paragraph I might eliminate "compelling ME to step around them" as ME is a hiccup of sorts; the focus of the piece being place rather than person. Loved ornamental tiles glued in place! Finally, though the last sentence is a perfect "conclusion" and neatly ties it all up - I'm wondering if it would be stronger to bring us back full circle to the beginning - the Ausable Club -( circle of life etc.) which by the way (I googled it) looks fantastic!
    Really appreciate your offering this up! A pleasure to savor.

  6. Ira,
    I think that the word synergism works in this piece. I also liked acted as rather than became.

    If you keep the word synergism then the ending works.