We were staying at a small bed & breakfast in the mid-Hudson River Valley this week when we found out--on our last day there, of course--about a nearby site that was heralded as just the balm for sore eyes. Needing no convincing, and not daunted in the least by unfavorable weather conditions, we headed out in the direction of the Catskill Mountains toward what James Fenimore Cooper called the “greatest wonder of all creation.”
In the moist gray-blue air, this is what we got:
Then the clouds below us became a cloud around us. I could see and feel its movement as the fog crept around a corner and took over not only the land on which we stood, but also the invisible vastness in front of us.
The voice in the guidebook we’d consulted told us the view from the site of the old Catskill Mountain House was “so lovely that it transcends mere description to become a symbol of the profoundest yearnings within the soul of the beholder.” I was prepared to believe it; even in absence—the absence of the house, which was burnt down almost 50 years ago, and the absence of the view, which was hidden by all the weightless wetness of a levitating pond—there was something transcendental. And I thought, for sure, I’d be returning. I hadn’t seen what I’d hoped to, but I’d seen something.
It’s not the manifestation that keeps us coming back. It’s the promise.