Fern Forest has been sweltering in this July heat. Last weekend, before the inferno, Alana surprised her Los Angeles boyfriend Aaron with three nights at the treehouse. Alana is a dental hygienist in Boston, and Aaron has just moved to Boston to begin studying acupuncture. They tell us that dentists are starting to use acupuncture in place of Novocain, and maybe one day these two will be in business together.
Their first night with us was a little crowded. Richard, a colleague of mine at Spalding University where we teach in the MFA in Writing Program, had brought his daughter Becky up from New York City to look at colleges, and nearby Middlebury was on the list. I had invited my friend Dora to have dinner with us, and everyone arrived about the same time. We emptied a bottle of wine and finished off a platter of cheese and crackers, and then we all headed to the Bobcat Café for dinner. Later, we put Becky in the guest room and stashed her dad on the bed in H’s basement office, and Alana and Aaron made their way to the treehouse.
Heat fell over us the following day and, after Richard and Becky said farewell, we took the Bostonians to the river along Downingsville Road. The river descends steeply over half a dozen waterfalls, and each cascade spills into a swimming hole.
We made our way down the river, stopping for a swim whenever we found water deep enough.
Although the New Haven River is crowded with people from Bristol and Lincoln because of its deep sections and impressive boulders, there was no one else on this smaller river with no name. Imagine having a pristine stream decorated with swirling water and mossy rocks all to yourself.“Who made this?” Aaron said, as if he were back in the land of movies and artificial scenery.
“Glaciers made it,” H told him. The water is glacier cold, too, and stings the skin until you get used to it. Aaron acclimated quickly and was like a seal in the water.
We hiked about half a mile down the stream, swimming and wading and picking our way over rocks, and finally climbed out at the old schoolhouse that’s now a residence. This was the first time we’d taken treehouse guests to this particular body of water. It’s hard to get to—no paths, no signs. You just have to know about it. Now you know. But please don’t tell another soul.