Death on the Wapack Trail

I suspect someone died on the ledges behind my house today while I was gone. I suspect it was a tragic, stupid decision that ended in the loss of a young soul. I suspect a mother is heartbroken, a family in shock, siblings in disbelief, a father shattered to the core of his being.

I suspect a group of friends are recalling the horror of watching one of their own depart.

I came around the bend to emergency vehicles from every department; from the State to several surrounding towns. My first inkling that something was very wrong was the Brush Fire Control unit. Fish and game was standing by, ambulances and small town fire & rescue were in abundance. I had to stop to allow the hearse to back into position, dark and foreboding amid the blocky trucks.

I suspect you can not witness this scene in your proverbial backyard without feeling the change in atmosphere, the knowledge that exuberant, youthful joy suddenly turned into a life lesson.

My ledges are accessed by a part of the Wapack Trail, a hiking route that is admired by athletes, provides vistas to Boston on a very rare clear day, and is a magnet for kids who don’t quite understand they are not invincible. These shaly outcroppings allow for spectacular views but present treacherous footing for those who refuse to respect the earth’s folds.  I suspect a rare slip of responsibility lead to this heavy air of sadness tonight.

The ravens are silent, no raucous Jays or Woodpeckers at the feeder. I close the door to the deck that faces to the back of my property, to the ledges.  Darkness will calm us all.

It smells smoky, and pine tree scented and Summery in my bedroom. I have a moment of panic, fire is unstoppable here. A quick check on the front deck reveals no odor except the flowers overflowing their pots. Yet the air is thick and hushed. I close the doors and windows on the heavy scent of grief.

16 thoughts on “Death on the Wapack Trail

  1. It is bad enough when you have time to prepare for a death, but someone dies unexpectedly, it is a different king of grief. Wishing peace to the family/friends involved.

  2. “dark and foreboding amid the blocky trucks.”
    It’s very unsettling to round the corner and see your way blocked by emergency vehicles. We came home to the desperate chaos one afternoon. There had been a fatal house fire only a couple of houses down. (and all our pets were locked inside our house. Fires spread rapidly, I angered firemen by eluding them and running to our house to grab them)
    “on the heavy scent of grief.”
    It hangs there with what seems forever. Even after the house is bulldozed.
    You expressed it so well.

      • It’s so sad when it’s totally preventable. A teenage neighbor pulled the older man to safety, but his wife wouldn’t leave and kept trying to throw water on the drapes. The boy had to leave her when the smoke got too bad. Totally tragic. Is does shake you every time you go past.

  3. It’s hard to deal with something like this but it’s a reminder that nature doesn’t give us many second chances. I’ve fallen a few times and each time I was amazed by how quickly it happened and how I had absolutely no warning. Thankfully there were no hills involved.
    We really need to be 100% aware and alert when we’re out there.

  4. On our return from a spectacular hike in the Colorado Rockies last fall, we encountered a similar scene at the beautiful vantage point of Alberta Falls. There, we later learned, a young man in his early 30’s jumped to his death, a suicide. It rattles a person to think of someone in so much pain they would chose to end their own life. I was saddened by his death as I am the loss of anyone so young. Hard lessons, indeed Martha.

  5. So sad when young lives end too soon. And you are right, when we were young we thought we were bullet proof and invincible. So sad, beautifully expressed.

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