Saturday, June 11, 2011

Walking Into Massachusetts from New York

In memory of my wife Desiree Pardi
an amazing woman, loving wife, caring doctor, a true gift
'This moment shall never come again – embrace it.”
October 29, 1967 – September 6, 2009

This plaque is affixed to a bench on the trail in Taconic State Park, New York. It was I am sure placed there through some special bequest, signifying as it were to the rest of the passing world, that someone had found this place among the most blessed on earth. (I even wondered if perhaps the ashes of the dearly beloved young Dr. Pardi might not be scattered about?) A blessed place, where everyone along the path was friendly and the path would have been passable to all able bodied: at least it seemed that way to us, my friend from the city and I, as we walked the path leading to variously named Bash Bish falls, or Copake Falls, the tallest falls in Massachusetts accessible only by this trail from New York. That trail starts here:

This past winter had been cold and the first parts of spring cool and rainy. The canopy of foliage and the swift running stream in the comfortable air invigorated with plenty of oxygen as you walk the faily easy path which leads to the falls.

The water was very clear and the air filled with the sounds of falling water, the rush of the stream a continual gushing susurus.

And as we walk along, my friend and I spoke of the legend behind this place, a Mohican legend, concerning a woman named Bash-Bish who had been unfaithful to her husband and forced into a canoe to be thrown over the falls when she was supposedly rescued through the aegis of a cloud of white butterflies.  

Bish-Bash escaped for a while but eventually came back where she was married to a chief or strong man of the tribe.

But try as they might, Bish-Bash and her husband couldn't conceive. Meanwhile from the first marriage, Bish-Bash had given birth to a daughter called White Swan. This daughter eventually come of age but had been rebuffed by her first love.

Then, you come to the border and this sign welcoming you into Massachusetts.

Then it's not long and you see the falls through the trees. I've seen the biggest at Yosemite in California, so these are really small falls to me, but the last time I was here, it was the end of summer and the falls, the stream, everything seemed to be carrying less water. So this day, the 4th of June of 2011, turned out to be one of the best times to come here, in spite of the mottled grey overcast sky and mild inconclusive temperatures. You never know here at any time whether you'll have rain or sunshine.

Finally, Bash-Bish Falls, aka Copake Falls, the highest natural falls in Massachusetts, where legend has it that a Mohican maiden and her daughter chose a mutual suicide pact to bring to ends their unhappy lives. The chief or strong man married to Bash-Bish supposedly dove in to the pool below the falls to try and save them, but he died in the process and neither woman's body was ever recovered. Again, the cloud of white butterflies seemed to be involved, de-materializing them.

Thus it was that I returned to this falls, maybe fifteen years since my last visit. We were struck by the kindness of the people on the trail, by the kindness of the benches here and there along the trail, which would be easy enough for most senior citizens in good health. Sometimes a musician needs a little immersion in nature. I was certainly thinking of phrases from the music I am attempting to add to my repertoire as I walked up and back (or in and out of the gorge in which the falls is situated in the low old Taconic mountains which are hills everywhere else). Every now and then, we need to get away to refresh ourselves.


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