Monday, August 5, 2013

The Slipping Away of Summer


This week, a mini-vacation to a majestic and stately Victorian resort nestled in the heart of the Catskills made me keenly aware of the power of words and images and their effect on the psyche. Tucked away into a quiet corner of New York State is Mohonk Mountain House, a hotel that has catered to the rich, the famous, and the ordinary vacationer in need
of a respite from busied activities. As the website notes, Mohonk "is a resort where guests can renew body, mind, and spirit in a beautiful natural setting.” The simple, descriptive words from the internet are more than an advertisement. They embody the Mohonk experience. I have visited Mohonk many times before this celebratory occasion, my anniversary. But this time, I realized more than ever that Mohonk Mountain House is one of those perfect getaways to rethink feelings about life.

While on the grounds of Mohonk I read a Twitter feed from author Teri Lesesne. Words…connect and reconnect; they remind and remain; they sink deep within us. Agreeing that words are indeed connectors, powerful conveyors of meaning, I looked more closely at the surroundings, reread the descriptive literature about the mountain house, and photographed the sites. I reconnected with my feelings, leaving behind the chatter and clutter of daily life. Words surrounded me. Gentle guidance from the yoga and meditation teacher moved me toward balance while the breathtaking landscape captured the lushness of the season. Inside Mohonk Mountain House, travelers were curled in various corners of period libraries and parlors reading for both pleasure and work. Conversations were plentiful and words were spoken with enthusiasm. Outside, as bright colors exploded across lawns, July slowly turned the corner to August. That afternoon, there was no hint that summer was slipping away, an often-heard lament of educators during the first days of August. Here at the Mohonk Mountain House, summer was vibrant, not “escaping quietly or going away.” The resort was embraced by nature, offering an elixir to travelers bound for return to the hustle and bustle. 

Interesting enough, on August 1st, while guests gathered on the Mohonk Mountain House’s lakeside porch, a thick, rising fog hovered over the mountain and settled on the lake, encompassing all so that only stillness remained.Those who watched the phenomenon felt the shifts in temperature and weather conditions. Carl Sandburg’s 1916 poem, Fog, came to mind. As the still, encompassing fog crawled across the lake, guests watched in awe.  At this time, I found myself reconnecting to memories, but it was not the passing of summer that I thought about, nor that people spoke of. Purposeful thoughts about the movement of season to season gave breath to conversations. There was no distress uttered about the torrents of rain or the gray skies. Mohonk’s beauty shone through the clouds. The landscape was aglow with a new tone as the slow, patterned movement of gray mist moved across the sky, blanketed the lake, and then gently lifted its veil. Carl Sandburg’s words were vividly portrayed in this setting. Fog indeed came in on little cat feet, sat on its silent haunches, and then moved on. I witnessed nature's gentle hand ushering in August as a tribute to all that is possible and can be appreciated in life.  Summer was not slipping away this week in the mountains. It was being refreshed and retooled as a crossover to a new season. Age-old fears of fleeting summer days were discarded. The fog became a beacon and August stood proudly in fleeting darkened splendor as it readied itself to pass the torch to a new season.

As I left the grand mountain house, I felt renewed. Was it by chance that July turned the corner to August this past week in a vivid way or was it that I saw the movement in a different light? For those of you who did not witness the dramatic, weather pattern change, may your sensory images guide you to hear and see life in a different way. Live in the world of the can and don't let any day slip away, let alone the summer.