Tuesday, March 20, 2012

the winding road into the mountains

 the green mountains with camel's hump in the distance

fog and drizzle mark the beginning of my 3 day trip to the mountains. (but the weekend is supposed to be unseasonably warm and sunny—hooray!).

out on the free and open road, i cruise over the big "yay maine!"bridge—a family tradition, started over 50 years ago by my mother-in-law when the family used to vacation here, is to yell "yay maine!" on the middle of the bridge when traveling back into maine—to new hampshire and zip to concord in the fine company of mpbn's world news, the writer's almanac and concertos by scarlatti  and mozart.

the ascent commences on route 89. a lone, wild turkey flies across the highway. the road leads up and up, curving through the fog, occasionally punctuated by a short, meandering descent but always more up than down in this direction. here is the vietnam veteran's memorial bridge, spanning the connecticut river between new hampshire and vermont.

finally i'm in vermont.

past exit 1—quechee, killington—i notice the first of several bright yellow signs placed at intervals along the highway alerting drivers to be cautious: MOOSE CROSSING. DEER CROSSING. BEAR CROSSING. i have only seen deer along this highway in vermont (in maine i have seen moose). it would be a real thrill to see a bear. (a bear could cause a potentially dangerous pile-up of cars, but it would be worth the risk.)

the fog thickens. on this day i am out of luck—no large wild animal sightings. and even if large animals are indeed walking on the side of the road, it is not possible to see them. the fog is as thick as a blanket. at first i can make out about four car-lengths in front of me; suddenly, the visibility drops to one car-length. i feel blind and almost smothered by the fog (but i like the eeriness, too). i drop my speed from around 80 to 55 (the speed limit is 65). in the distance, appearing and then disappearing about three car-lengths away, i see a tall, ghostly form. now it's there, now it's not. as i drive i get closer to it. it turns out to be the back of a huge truck with no lights on.

the fog clears but everything is still gray, a translucent gray giving way to a gray that is transparent—gray upon gray upon gray. a slight drizzle coats the windshield. the shapes of vermont's green mountains are mere one-dimensional  silhouettes—like mock mountains built for a stage set—of generic rocks and trees and dirt. i know they are mountains because i know mountains. (but had i been a space alien, none of these undulations would make any sense.) clouds hover around the towering gray forms and rise up stringily like acrid smoke from thousands of smoldering campfires.

i'm almost there. some mountain bumps seem to follow me, watching over me. usually the camel's hump double bump is directly ahead or just over my shoulder. but not today. i must be patient. i will have to wait until the clouds lift to see it.

my girls live in these mountains, my girls—one a college student, and one, my oldest, with her own bump, a baby on the way.

yes, and i'm so thrilled, thrilled beyond words.

i've arrived at my destination and i'm going to be a grandmama.


jill + oakley said...

our friend tradition is to scream "pis-ca-tack-qua" mispronounced (not piscataqua) when we cross the bridge. sometimes my friends coming from boston will text that to let me know where they are---and on the way out of maine they text it backwards.

love that bridge!


alexandra said...

Yay grandmama!

Jayne said...

First, CONGRATULATIONS! What wonderful news. My best friend became a grandmother a couple of years ago and she is still glowing. So, glow, glow!

Second- Have to laugh about the Pistaqua bridge, because like you and j above, we have the same tradition when we cross from NH to Maine or vice versa. Exactly like j, actually: pis-ca-tack-qua!!! Love crossing that bridge, even if we are not even halfway to our destination when we cross over from NH.

The green mountains are gorgeous. Best skiing in New England, too. IMHO. Lucky you have such a beautiful destination in which to travel. Now, you'll have even more reason to get there quickly. :)

m said...

thanks, guys, for your comments.

jayne, i had to figure out what IMHO meant. haha. you are so cool! IMHO.