The Secret Ledge -
I know this image is rather ‘busy’, but I’d like to share it, as it’s one of my absolute favorite spots:) I escape to, particularly when things are swirling around me. It’s a small hidden ledge at the top of a nearby mountain. The walk is short, less than an hour from my back stoop, and the very first real hike my dad brought me on. As his dad, my grandfather, had done with him, when he was young.
I was fortunate to be able to purchase my grandparents house, completely gut it, and now make it my own. It’s pretty special waking up in the house my dad and his family grew up in, 14 kids in all. My dad comes from an independent, strong family of hunters. The boys were taught very early, the way of the woods, navigating, flora, fauna, and survival, with respect for animals and the mountains. The brothers and my grandfather would frequently go together, relying heavily on venison to feed the family, simply walking out the back door, and heading to the mountains and hills behind the house to hunt, often stopping at this spot.
While I never turned out to be a ‘hunter’ myself, I also learned the way of the woods as a child, from my father, along with all the nooks and crannies of the hills, knolls, streams, and mountains surrounding me, most of it without any trails of any kind. And later, through further outdoor adventures with friends and cousins.
Climbing up to this location with my parents, is one of the earliest formulative memories I have. I clearly recall it was in the fall, as my parents brought my brother and I for an afternoon hike. Knowing how young children can bore easily on a hike in the woods, he wisely brought some of the leftover Halloween candy corn and pumpkins with him. My brother and I unaware, dad would nimbly sprint ahead of us, and leave a trail of candies along the way, sometimes left on top of rocks, or tucked in the notch of a tree limb, to keep us motivated. With the suspense of the candy-hunt, and the added sugar rush, we were soon at the top.
Now, I sometimes bring an ice cold beer with me instead, as my adult summit incentive;). And every time, as I sit atop the ledges, I think of my father, my uncles and aunts, and grandparents, who are all no longer here. How they all have sat on this very ledge, at one point in time or another…..so I sit here with them, in the middle of the woods, and it feels good:).