You Are Where You Are Standing
I was encouraged to undertake the step-building project off the Rowley's Bridge Trail by Dr. Fred Hubbard, a retired environmental consultant who volunteers as the village's naturalist. He subsequently dubbed it “Forbes' Folly.” I don't think the boulder itself is “Forbes' Folly”; it's not designated as such in the map of the trail and its environs that another resident produced under Fred's direction. I think Fred was probably just describing the process of building access to this piece of rubble left behind by a retreating Ice Age glacier about 18,000 years ago.
One morning when I was clearing brush near the top of Forbes Folly, a village trustee walked by. Looking up from the main trail, which terminates at the arched Rowley Bridge that carries Broadway over a deep ravine a few feet away, he commented favorably on my progress.
“Will the path lead to anywhere when it's done?” he called up to me.
It was an odd question. Clearly there was no anywhere else to go. I chalked it up to his being a fledgling politician.
“It is done,” I replied. “It leads to this rock.”
A few weeks later I repeated that conversation to Carrick, whom I was seeing for the first time since she had entered New Hope Manor, a long-term drug rehabilitation facility in upstate New York. I tried to imbue the exchange that I'd had with the trustee some Zennish significance about destinations being exactly where your feet were standing at the moment. I also gave Carrick a palm-sized humpbacked rock. I told her that it had “found me” one day while I was sitting on the top of the boulder. It fit snugly into my palm. It was reminiscent of the boulder itself. I told her that everything she needed to know was in that rock. I said that Deirdre, Duncan and I had all held it, osmosing into it positive feelings about her recovery from heroin addiction.
Carrick had had some history with Forbes' Folly. One day the previous spring, she had worked with me on clearing the path to the summit. Mostly she dug at the edges of a 30-gallon drum filled with congealed gunk, oozing toxicity, that had been buried there years before. Because she was oblivious to any consequences — typically — I had to insist that she wear gloves and cover her arms as she worked. She used a spade to scrape at the outline of the barrel, picking deliberately as if she were extracting a dinosaur's mandible from the soil. I remember the sweat beading on her forehead. I admired her diligence. When she was younger, she would have given up in frustration after a few minutes.
As it turned out, she managed to get most of the job done before we had to leave. I'd hoped for months that she'd come back and finish the excavation, but she always had an excuse why she couldn't make it. Then she ran away. Eventually, with the sort of pang you get when you realize your daughter is wearing lip gloss and has forsaken her dolls forever, I took the barrel out myself.