May 14, 2008
Wildflowers and graffiti
The boardwalk curved its way through a marshy area filled with birdsong and green things just beginning to unfold. Bright yellow marsh marigolds bloomed along the edges of our path. I'd driven to Black Dog Hollow to meet Nearly Kin, a blogging friend who doesn't blog very often any more. We'd chosen this fairly obscure location because it was somewhere between his town and mine, and our two cars were the only ones in the parking lot. Luckily, I'd already established that he wasn't an axe murderer. We talked as we walked, catching up on the events of the winter. When we ran out of boardwalk to explore, we went down to the pond, passing under an apple tree that was holding rosy blossoms up against the sky.
I told Nearly Kin that my goal was to find the trail to Pot Mender Falls, a waterfall I'd heard about for years. I knew there was a path from the road, but I'd looked for a sign every single Sunday as I drove past on my way to the ski slopes, and even in the stark winter landscape, I couldn't find one. We consulted maps, which helped not at all, and a printout from the computer, which was completely confusing, and then simply went up the road, looking for anything that might be a path. I figured that as long as we found some kind of creek, we could just follow that uphill.
Eventually, we did find a trail, unmarked but obviously a trail, and soon we were hiking along a small stream. It didn't take us long to come to the waterfall: thin sheets of water cascading over a rock lip, falling about sixty feet onto a tumble of rocks. We were in a shady glen of big rocks that looked like they'd been scattered by some kind of gleeful child giant. But I was horrified to see graffiti — yes, graffiti — spraypainted on the cliffs under the falls.
I quite like graffiti when I see it on the sides of trains or abandoned buildings or bridges in the city. But the garish spray paint seemed horribly wrong in this misty green glen. The graffiti wasn't even artistic or clever or political: just some names and such. I immediately began wondering if graffiti removal could be a community service project for my students next semester.
From the waterfall, we followed the stream as far as we could. We were apparently too late in the season for the annual mating migration of the spotted salamander, which is apparently a big event in Black Dog Hollow, but I did see a snake, a tiny thin garter snake that slithered quickly under the rocks when it felt the vibrations from my feet. The stream bed was completely dry once we'd gone a few hundred yards, just a long trail of flat grey rocks.
By the time we'd walked the trail, I was hungry. For some reason, I hadn't thought to bring food or water. But Nearly Kin assured me that we could find a fine dining establishment in Small Town in the Middle of Nowhere. We did, thankfully, find a Chinese restaurant, where we sat in the sun, eating vegetables and rice, washed down by bottles of drinks that were mostly high fructose corn syrup.
I'm guessing the flowers are marsh marigolds, but I'm not really sure. If anyone wants to identify them from my photo, please leave a comment. And if you look closely at the top of the waterfall photo, you can see the graffiti.
Posted by jo(e)