Shawn and I were able to observe one of our yearly traditions this past week—hiking up to Arethusa Falls as close to the first day of spring as our lives will allow.
The falls are accessible by a fairly easy, in-and-back trail at the southern end of Crawford Notch State Park, with about 800 feet of elevation gain. It’s beautiful any time of year, but March is our favorite for several reasons: there are usually very few people around; there’s still enough snow and ice on the trail to both smooth out the usually rocky, rooty trail and require the use of our micro-spikes; and the unique beauty that awaits us at the top—a wall of water over a hundred feet tall almost entirely encased in bluish ice.
What draws my attention most strongly to memories of past years’ hikes to this gorgeous place is the sound of the water moving, rumbling, tumbling, behind and underneath the ice. I love hopping here and there when we get up to the top, seeking out all the different sounds and tones and harmonics that are unique to this short window of spacetime.
We didn’t make the trek last year. We had just gotten home from the cancelled tour and, along with the rest of the world, entered into isolation from the pandemic with a sense of withdrawal from the life we once knew, as if it were now out of reasonable reach and accessible now only by memory.
I have thought of these falls now and again over the past year, eager to see them again in the state we found them last Tuesday. In my rumination, I’ve been so deeply comforted by the fact that, while the humans of the world adapted to the new normal being built from and around the pandemic, the water continued to move, day after day, over that wall of rock and earth, following the ancient course of every drop of the world’s water back towards the sea from which all life emerged. In this way, each drop is coming and going again and again, partnered with gravity in an infinite dance.
I could learn a thing or two from the moving water. It’s simple and easy. It knows the way, and never questions it. It holds and changes its form, effortlessly, no matter the conditions. It’s essential for life. It’s best when it’s unpolluted. It’s flowing and soft, and yet steady and strong enough to wear away rock and earth. I wanna be more like water when (if?) I grow up.