That Old New Green

I fear this may get mushy. If you’re not in that treehugging mood, look away.

The Holyoke ridge, looking west from Mount Tom.

This is maybe my favorite prospect in the valley, at my favorite time of year for prospects: when I’ve had six months to forget how beautiful the leaves are, and they come forth again as though for the first time in that pale, infant color and texture soft as skin. I think it has to do with contrasts. Over my shoulder to the right is Easthampton, with its towering old brick smokestacks haunted by nesting swallows. Over the mountain’s shoulder to the left, subsided metropoli full of factories similarly moldering and grey populate a long gradient into haze: Holyoke, Springfield, Hartford, New Haven. Behind me, the summit of Mount Tom, with its ruined Victorian hotel now surmounted by buzzing icicle cellular towers, satellite dishes and wry suicidal graffiti. But right here in front of me is this rippling swath of pastel-green, unpopulated nothing. What’s it doing there, looking like it just erupted from the fingertips of god? What right has it to go unlogged, undeveloped, undecayed?

Unlike pretty much every other place in this valley, I’ve never really had the chance to explore this particular nothing. Maybe that contributes to the mystery. Maybe I never will explore it, just so I can get this same feeling again every spring.

On the way back down across the sandy cut where the hotel’s telephone wires used to run, I ran into a Northern Oriole female–nothing special for most of you people maybe, but for some reason around here I rarely see them. I didn’t take a picture; there’s times when it just isn’t called for. But I crept up to within a few feet and we chirped back and forth at each other for awhile, heads cocked and frozen still. Then I thanked her and went on my way.


      1. You can see a sign for Ripton on the signpost in the center of Shutesbury. There’s more to the story, I think, than is on that site, but it appears to be an oral tradition sort of thing. Not much on the internet, a very slight Wikipedia entry that doesn’t tell the whole story. I have heard little bits and pieces from folks in the morris crowd, some of whom, I believe, may or may not have been tangentially involved in some or possibly other aspects of it….it seemed like it might be up your alley.

        Hey, I suddenly don’t get email notifications when somebody (you) replies–is there something I can do to fix that?

        1. I saw the Wikipedia page–you’re right, not much there. But I like the idea of a more exclusively oral tradition. I want to contribute!

          I think I forgot to reactivate the “Subscribe to comments” plugin when I migrated over here to the greengeeks server. Now it is there again–that wee checkbox above the comments field. Thanks for the headsup!

        2. Oh, yup–there it is, and I have checked it, so if you respond I should get a note in my email.

          The whole Ripton thing, so I’m told, had the sensibility of “mischief to make a point.” From there, the legend has grown. And yes, Brigadoon isn’t entirely off the mark either.

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