Yesterday I took myself hiking at Caledonia State Park. I hiked a little ways on the Appalachian Trail, something that, strangely enough, I don’t think I’ve ever done before. The turning leaves were lovely, and the air smelled wonderful. I took a lot of pictures. I came to the conclusion, while hiking, that the trouble with mountains is that they always end at some dissapointingly low point in the sky.
After a few hours I got back in my car with the intention of driving north to Pine Grove Furnace State Park. On the way, however, I was distracted by a dry lake bed. It seems a lake had cracked it’s damn, and they (whoever is responsible for the lake) had been forced to drain it. I spent awhile slogging through the cracked, deceptively dry-looking lakebed, taking a lot of photos and getting an amazing quantity of seed pods attached to my pants. When the light became too dim to take any more photos, I drove back to Gettysburg. There I grabbed a latte and then wandered into a used book store. It was everything a used book store should be – cramped, low-ceilinged rooms filled to bursting with neatly organized hardbacks. This was no literary junk shop, either, like so many other used book stores. The collection showed the attention of a discerning book lover. I’m ashamed to say I left empty-handed, but I look forward to returning.
It was nice being able to hike at my own pace and to stop the car wherever I fancied. Driving through Gettysburg is such a mixed experience. There is the unavoidable tourist-trap feel of the place, and there is the carefully calculated but still endearing quiantness of the town. But then there are the battlefields, where no amount of tour buses and dignified monuments can wholly distract from the fact that right here, mere boys killed each other in droves, tearing apart with grapeshot and miniballs and sabres other boys who spoke the same language, worshipped at the same churches, and believed in the same basic ideals. It is strange to look at the rolling hills of my home state and say “battlefield”. It sounds like such a foreign word to my sheltered 21st century American ears.
Today I’m home with the kids while avivahg attends the last weekend of the MD Renn Faire. I’m mopin around the house trying to get some chores done, and trying to coerce the kids into doing the same. Sometimes they still seem so very much like someone else’s kids, that I’m just watching temporarily. I wonder if that feeling ever fades?