Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Walk in the Woods

On a weekend that would include a concert by the Emerson String Quartet to conclude the Union College Concert Series, a friend and I decided to take a walk in the woods along a local nature trail. Here are some of the pictures I took along the way.

 This was a locally maintained nature trail that featured the promise of a waterfall.  As is well known, people will travel out of their way in hope of seeing a waterfall.  Many towns were given names implying that there were falls nearby just to attract visitors.  I know of at least 2 towns where there either were no falls or there used to be falls but a long time ago.  Well, on our little walk we did finally see something that passed for a falls, though perhaps to most a mere cataract.

Just through the gate and we are on our way.

It has been a chilly April and though average temperatures had been rising, there had been a chill in the air until the day we took our walk.  The sky remained overcast with just an occasional ray of sunshine.

Here too, we saw where someone had set up a memorial to someone who really enjoyed this particular nature walk, but this time I didn't get closer to see who it was.

Looking west
After a passage along a ridge, the trail wends down to a babbling brook to the left.  The only sounds are a few birds and once in a while the movement of other animals through the brush.  Meanwhile, I play back in my mind some famous musical phrases drawn, by admission of the composers themselves, from nature.
 Finally through a shaft of sunlight, the brook appears. 
Opposite the brook, a hillside illuminated by occasional shafts of sunlight, shows the conifers along the heights with most of the deciduous trees and shrubs hardly yet setting forth their summer leaves.  Spring has not yet sprung.
The brook widens and makes a turn, the trail follows the curve as the sound of falling water gets ever louder.
A fleeting moment when the sky opens and lets more sunshine through.  Can we see the falls yet, or are they just rapids?
 And then there are falls, or what passes for them in most places; falling water, making its natural complement to other natural sounds, over perhaps less than six feet!  Above this spot and up the hill to the left used to stand a mill powered by this stream.  We imagined the very different times and lives lived here 200 years ago and more.  Here in this little valley there was evidence of long past human settlement.  Small farmers had raised their crops here and in the surrounding hills, probably cutting their grain by hand and hauling the sacks down to the mill where they were ground into the season's flour.  The whole thing was powered by this little stream.
Here's another view of the falls, 
... and the valley behind them.
For some, the sights and sounds along the walk would have been enough inspiration.  Meanwhile, the sky presented us with inspiration of perhaps another order, for perhaps an atonal masterpiece.  

We encourage all musicians to take walks in nature as many musicians down through time have done, to relax and perhaps take inspiration therefrom for what we are working on now, what perhaps we may attempt in the future and to give us something other to do with ourselves, our time and our friends.

Finally, the Emerson String Quartet is really a wonderful ensemble.  Here's something of what they are like.


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