My intention was to get a coffee, an accomplice to my escape from a 2 week-old-not-quite home, my retreat into Massachusetts to meditate. Pay attention, or you’ll miss it – Shelbourne Falls snuck up on me and completely captivated me. It has a desolate, quint, yet charming nature that immediately drew me in. I practically jumped out of the car to walk down Main Street, taking in the antique shops offset by magnificent trees standing tall on mountains in the background, historic decor beckoned to me, inviting my imagination to join it, as if walking through another time.
The town directs me where to go, all I must do is follow the signs. Armed with my weapon of choice, coffee, I retreat down a hill to glacial potholes, anticipating the unknown. A stream, a waterfall appears, and as I glance down, intricate rock structures emerge, eloquently weather worn, crafting massive potholes of pools of water. I sit at the edge, mesmerized by the constant rush of the waterfall, the shape of the glacial rock pools Native Americans once fished in, letting nature hypnotize me.
Another sign tells me about a Bridge of Flowers and I follow, walking down a deserted road, stumbling into a secret garden hidden amongst an unassuming bridge. I walk down the flower lined path, breathing in the fragrance of Shelbourne Falls, the sweet scent of flowers with smokey hints of surrounding fires, welcoming the crisp fall air. I take in the perfect reflection of mountains and homes that protrude from the water’s edge on the calm, glassy surface of the lake. Red, purple, orange, and yellow blossoms greet me as I make my way across the water. Lanterns add character to the lush bridge, ivy growing up the structure and adding to the picturesque magical flower garden.
My eyes meet the glance of a women walking across the bridge, we courteously stop together for a family mid-picture. She looks at me as if she knows me, as if she’s known me all my life and I smile in return, not understanding, but accepting. I have a sudden urge to walk, to explore, and I follow this urge out of town, into rolling fields, farm houses with lifetimes of stories to tell, old structures surrounded by the first vibrant colors of fall, mountains laughing at the frailty of these temporary, worn human creations. I walk all the way to a cemetery, a valley of lives once lived crowned by powerful mountains. I’m struck by how fleeting and precious human life is.
I see her again in town, our eyes meet once more, and she invites me to her home for dinner. I sit at an aged kitchen table, happily eating warm, fresh ratatouille made from her garden vegetables, and listen to stories of a life spent on hippie communes in Massachusetts. Stories of a brave and free woman who left the city, grew her own food, and loved nature. I fall in love with her freedom, her bravery. I get to step into her life for a moment, for a night as she invites me to sleep in what once was her son’s bedroom. I eat hot home-made molasses cookies as the chilly evening descends, feeling oddly at home in a strange place, and thank the universe for bringing me here.