I've never climbed a mountain before. You can take that metaphorically or literally, but I mean it literally this time around.
My boyfriend and I finally dusted off the snowshoes and hiked up Ragged Mountain in Adams on Sunday. I've been snowshoeing only once, so this time, of course, I knew what I was doing.
It was one of those perfect winter days -- not too cold and light flurries fell slowly and softly as we began our ascent. Mercifully, we took off on flat terrain, weaving up the mountain at a steady pace, but nothing as extreme as to induce a hernia.
After a number of breaks and catching our breath, we stopped among a few beech trees. Sitting down on a log, my boyfriend began telling me about beech trees and their smooth, gray bark. He said if a bear claws into the bark, the tree continues to grow around the scar, unharmed, turning it black as it widens.
"The same goes for carving your initials," he said, pointing to where he left his mark years ago, followed shortly after by that of his brother.
Thinking, wishing and hoping I could join this tree carving club, I snuck into my bag for my Gerber knife. Getting that wonderful OK to cut my initials into the "family tree," I began to inscribe my double Ls onto the gray coat.
Bam! I left my initials halfway up this glorious heap of awesome wilderness. It was nothing fancy, but it was mine, and I felt like I was part of something.
Admiring my work one last time, we took off toward the summit. I'd like to say it was a most harrowing journey, but aside from almost crying like a baby because I couldn't walk across a couple of logs of an old bridge (I ended up crawling on my hands and knees -- still wearing the snowshoes) and the last few steep slopes that caught up with my muscles after a stretch, we made it to the top.
If you've never been to the top of Ragged, it's basically a series of peaks. The view was blocked by trees because where we ended up was mostly a long stretch of ridgeline.
But we did it! We climbed a mountain! And it was beautiful! Holy potatoes!
If you've never had a "holy potatoes!" moment, man you're missing out. It's when everything in your life comes into perspective and you're the happiest you think you could ever be. In my case: I just achieved something I did not think I could do within a day or at all. I achieved it with the love of my life.
It was on a gorgeous afternoon in a town where everyone says there's nothing to do. I'm happy. I'm safe. I'm loved. No one can ruin this for me except myself. I may cry. Please don't cry. Dammit, you're kind of crying.
"It's just so windy up here!" I insisted. As the light started fading and we snapped one last photo before our descent, all I could think about was how lucky I am to have found someone and someplace with so much to offer. I hear people complain about how there's nothing to do around here -- that everyone pretty much sucks and so does everything else.
I think my boyfriend said it best: "There's no such thing as being bored; there's just boring people."
* Columnist's note: In no way do I advocate going out and carving initials into trees. It's a romantic thing to do, but let's maintain the natural beauty of the Berkshires and keep it to a minimum, if at all.
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