Two Men On A Rock

And I need to be there when the world gets too heavy and the shadows cross my mind.

Like brave mountaineers, we were never bothered much by time.

—Gordon Lightfoot.


[The author, left (in blue) and climbing partner, Greg Stella on the trail of Big Slide Mountain. circa 1972.]

Once upon a time, two young men set out from Johns Brook Lodge in the heart of the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Mountains. Their goal was to climb Big Slide. These two men were vigorous and healthy. The fire of youth burned in their veins. They climbed together for many years…in the rain, the sleet, the fog and the snow. In the summer they sweated and in the winter they huddled beside a log-fed blaze and sipped hot chocolate, hot enough to scald their tongues.

On this particular day, nearly half-way to the summit of Big Slide, they shook off their packs and sat on a rock for a cool drink and a rest. A few moments passed and another climbing party came panting up the trail.

“Excuse me,” said one of the resting men. “Would you mind taking our picture?”

The stranger obliged and handed the camera back to the man who wore a blue parka.

The small group moved on. The two young men rested for a few minutes and continued their climb.

Forty-seven years later, these two men and their wives were enjoying a few days together at a lakeside cottage owned by the blue-jacketed man and his wife.

“Hey,” he said. “I have a website and if I remember correctly, there is a picture of you and I when we were climbing Big Slide. It’s in one of my slide-shows. Would you like a copy?”

Soon it was all over. The slide-show was seen and the picture was saved. Much to the amusement of those present, an attempt was made to reproduce the postures of the two young men resting on a rock.

The two men stared at the original photo…and remembered.


[The author, left (in white socks) and one-time climbing partner, Greg Stella. November 5, 2019.]


[Note: The sound track to the slide-show was Bob Dylan’s Forever Young.]

Both photos are mine.

My website:

The Thing

A few months ago, I stopped at a small country deli for a turkey and swiss cheese sandwich.  The store was in Keene Valley, New York.  There are fine views of the High Peaks of the Adirondacks from the porch of the deli.  I had some brown mustard and low-fat mayo on rye bread.  The sandwich also came with nice, crunchy chips and a pickle.  I really love pickles.  I even make my own.  You should try my pickles someday, you’d like them.

In a small yard beside my car was a really interesting thing.  I took several photographs of it from various angles, trying to get the best view of the thing.  Now, this thing was very rusty…but that happens when you leave metal things out in the rain.  I’m not very mechanically minded, but from the wheels and gears, I could ascertain that the thing moved at some point when it wasn’t so rusty.  There was more rust on this thing than there was eye-shadow on a hooker I met once on Eighth Avenue in 1986.  And she had some serious eye-shadow that day.  If it hadn’t been about noon, I would have thought she had been dead for about six years.

But I digress.

I have a college degree, you understand, so I could tell in a minute that this thing in Keene Valley was put there from wherever it was when it did whatever it was designed to do.  I highly doubt that this thing was always in the yard.  I mean, how could you work on anything in the middle of winter or on a rainy day?  The thing would have gotten rusty a lot earlier than it did, although I wasn’t sure when it did start to get rusty.

As I stood looking at this really rusty thing, I wondered if there were some old-timers around who knew what it was, or what it did.  I speculated even further…was there someone still alive that had actually used the thing?  I thought about going back into the deli and asking the person who took my sandwich order if they knew anything about the thing in their yard, but I decided that I would risk looking like a fool.  Maybe the thing’s use was obvious to everyone, everyone but me?  This wouldn’t be the first time that something was known by a large number of people and not by me.  Like the talent of Miley Cyrus.

Besides, I was a man, and we don’t ask questions about things very often.

So, when I drove by the deli the other day, the thing was still there.  I felt bad about how lonely the thing was, sitting in that little yard all by itself.  I felt that way about a hair brush once, when I was a little boy.  I found it on my little bed and so I tossed it to the top of my dresser.  It hit the top but bounced off and fell behind a chair.  I lay there thinking about the brush and I began to feel sad.  I didn’t want it to be lonely, so I crawled around in the dark trying to find it.  I did and I put it on top of the dresser.  In the morning, I saw that it had caught a giant dust bunny.  I should have left it there.

I finally located the photograph of the thing.  It’s shown below.  But, I’m still confused about what it is and what it was used for.  If anyone of my faithful readers know what this thing is, please send me an email.

Or, maybe it never did anything.  Maybe it was just one of those things.