We just spent two days in the Northeast Kingdom, and while I bristle at male gender references to almost anything, it is beautiful country. The term is used to describe the northeastern corner of Vermont, and is reported to have first been used by George Aiken, a former Governor of Vermont and a U.S. Senator, during a 1949 speech. Not surprising, that the term “kingdom” came from a man, but it is a gloriously scenic area, and I was there visiting one of my most brilliantly feminist friends — by that I mean her gender analysis is spot on and constant, underlying her fundamental views of how the world operates, which is probably why I was thinking about the “kingdom” thing in the first place. But what do you call the land a queen owns and governs? A queendom?
Beyond all that, we had a grand time. We arrived on a sunny and warm October afternoon and enjoyed the view of Lake Willoughby from the camp porch, Jay Peak in the distance. We ended up spending much of the afternoon sitting on the dock, late season sun warming our faces and backs, snacking, talking, listening to the water slap the rocks. David and I even went for a swim, though the water was so cold I could hardly breathe.
Yesterday morning, while Carol and Steve did camp close-up errands, David and I went to hike Wheeler Mt. Within a few minutes of starting the hike, we were climbing slabs of granite that form the western cliff face of the mountain. The foliage was stunning, with hillsides of yellow and orange rolling off into the folds of mountains around us. It was so glorious and exhilarating, I knew I needed to hike more. So after going back to the camp and helping Steve and Carol with more closing-down-camp chores, including completing the item on the list “Finish drinking all beverages and eating all the food,” we left to hike Mt. Pisgah.
Pisgah forms the eastern wall of the notch that Lake Willoughby slices through. From its ridge the views of the lake, a long rectangle of wind streaked water directly below, and the Green Mountains in the distance, were remarkable. We’d timed the hike so we’d get out of the woods right at dark, not having to worry about being any where by any time in particular. Afternoons like yesterday are when the reality of having left our jobs is most striking. Want to hike more? Okay, let’s do it.
As we walked back to the car, the low sun lit the yellow leaves of the hardwoods at the base of the ridge into a canopy of autumn glow. Just before the road, we crossed a boardwalk over a beaver bog, and the nearly full moon was rising in the east. A beaver swam back and forth across the small pond, and twice came to watch us watch him. We looked out over the silvered tree stumps standing in the still water once more, then got in the car and drove home, the big moon riding with us, feathering the dark ridges with a ghost haze, easing us back into a week that isn’t full of work. Yes, we are blessed.