By Han Shan
Translated by David Hinton
The cold in these mountains is ferocious,
has been every year since the beginning.
Crowded peaks locked in perennial snows,
recluse-dark forests breathing out mists,
grasses never sprout before the solstice
and leaves start falling in early August.
This confusion includes a lost guest now,
searching, searching—no sky to be seen.
It was dark and rainy all day Monday, which I didn't mind since we had a gorgeous weekend and we're still behind on rainfall, which can mean a short, less colorful autumn. But it felt like I was doing everything in slow motion, and now I'm practically too tired to keep my eyes open even though I didn't much exert myself. In between work and drafting a letter to the administration of one son's school which I'm hoping I won't have to send, I ran out to a couple of stores (forgot my A.C. Moore coupon, grr, and the CVS next door doesn't have Planters' low-salt mixed nuts, arrgh), and washed and dried lots of clothes that won't get folded till tomorrow. I am bummed that Renfaire season is pretty much over.
We watched "Gwaine," the fourth episode of this season of Merlin, which was enjoyable if predictable -- in some ways it felt like a mash-up of several previous episodes, but Merlin and Arthur were adorable and Gwen got to flirt a bit with someone other than Arthur, even though it had far too little Morgana for my taste. Then we watched this week's Boardwalk Empire, which continues to be very impressive in terms of recreating its era but it's hard to really like any of the main characters except Margaret Schroeder, and her choices are circumscribed by her circumstances. If it gets any more violent, I doubt I'll keep watching.
After visiting the Smithsonian's conservation facility in Front Royal, we drove part of Skyline Drive...
...the piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway that climbs the spine of the mountains east of the Shenandoah River.
Turkey vultures were soaring high above the hills and farms below.
Even at this elevation, the leaves had only just begun to change...
...though there were ripe apples on a tree near one of the campgrounds.
There were many wildflowers too, like this thistle.
And it had rained enough the previous week for this small cascade to send water falling over the rocks.