Monday, November 26, 2012

Birthday in the Mountains

Far from books, far from library shelves and their coded wisdoms, snow showers visited northeastern Pennsylvania this Saturday.

If you had chosen to stand with friends that morning in a mountain cemetery, the brief and sudden movement of flakes barely distracted you. You had to watch – one more time – your generation negotiate a landscape from which someone older had disappeared.

You got to listen to another summing up of a life. You recognized – one more time – that such a summing up, even when it is accurate and insightful and loving, does not restore that life.

If the Saturday happened to be your own birthday, you found it hard to convince anyone that there were few places you would rather have been – with friends, on a mountain, under a grey sky full of silences, about something so real it could not be delayed. The universe had trusted you to be up to it.

There was a lunch on the road home. Friends had undertaken to locate a spot beforehand where we could pause over fare carefully prepared. The Hotel Fauchere in Milford, Pennsylvania, will stay vivid in my mind for its creamy mushroom soup and its quiche with kale and onions, its table next to a window through which I watched a porch lined with wooden rockers responding to the winds.

This morning I am back among books.