May 21, 2013
It was hot and humid; storms were predicted. For the previous several days I had been going through boxes left in attic storage, culling them and re-boxing the remains to ship back to California. Chris was hurriedly listing his latest collection of used books to sell on Amazon and packing them to send to the their warehouse near Seattle. Although we relished the idea of being on the road again, we were both exhausted and short-tempered. Resupplying ourselves with cash, gas, and a cart full of goods from Trader Joe’s we finally slipped away from the Boston area by mid-afternoon.
We were aiming for Taconic State Park in Copake, NY, just over the border from the western edge of MA. Large patches of rain and lightening traveled east as we drove west. By the time we reached Great Barrington, MA, it was late and we were in the midst of another blinding downpour. I felt spent, my body buzzing from fatigue and my mind dull. Nearby was a campground in Beartown State Forest and we headed there, unable to find the energy to drive farther. After some confusion and wrong turns we made our way to the primitive campground on Benedict Pond. Drained of enthusiasm and pleasure, we sullenly ate prepared food and got ready for bed. The rains stopped but everything was still dripping and damp, the earth pock-marked with puddles. We were unclear how to register since there were no iron rangers or registration forms so we left it for the morning when our heads would be clearer.
In the middle of the night a terrific thunderstorm rolled through; heralding its arrival were strong gusty winds that buffeted the camper. Rain and lightening soon followed. The thunder was exceptionally loud and long, as though giant boulders were crashing and shattering down a mountain slope – BANG! – CRASH! – BOOM! – KABOOM! I was unsettled by its intensity. Eventually the storm passed and sleep returned.
We were looking forward to a quiet morning and to lazily sleeping late. Then, much earlier than we planned to rise, there was a knock-knock-knock at our door. The ranger was there to collect our fee. Chris stumbled out, explained our confusion and payed the $10. Unlike anywhere else we’ve been, you can only register at Beartown by phone or online; there is no official way to register in person. The ranger apologized for waking us and recommended a local restaurant for breakfast. He also informed us that a tornado was reported nearby the previous night, in Copake NY, . . . where we had originally planned to be!
Up and dressed, I wandered the wet, dripping woods with my camera and saw a variety of wild flowers (battered by the hard rain), numerous red efts on the move, and an abundance of black flies. I will no longer have alligators and a plenitude of large wading birds to photograph. I missed them already! Most of the birds here are small and difficult to see much less photograph (although I was given a new pair of Nikon binoculars for my birthday!). I will have to settle for landscapes, wildflowers and other small interesting discoveries. But they all seem so much less dramatic and compelling than the super-sized birds and lizards of the South!
PS. BTW, the red eft is the terrestrial juvenile form of the Eastern Newt. The red signifies poison (to potential predators)! These cute little guys can be seen migrating throughout the wet woodlands.