Log Cabin Chronicles

Royal Orr



We headed down to Stowe, Vermont, recently to listen the U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty play an evening concert in a meadow on top of a mountain. The music, like the weather, was great, especially a set of swing tunes they did just before intermission.

We'd also headed south to get in an afternoon of hiking. My littlest guy, Jacob, is an avid walker and climber. So while Mom and big sister shopped at Bear Pond Books, Jacob and I went looking for Moss Glen Falls.

In classic Vermont style, the trail to the falls is marked by an understated green and white sign at the end of a complicated series of twists and turns on back roads about five miles from the village. The Jaguars and Mercedes Benzes of downtown Stowe had given way to old Volkswagen campers and pickup trucks carrying stubby white-water kayaks in the trail head's little parking area. That's a good sign, as far as I'm concerned.

The trail started off flat. We walked over mushy ground, made muddier by the diligence of a family of beavers trying to flood out the path completely. After about a quarter of a mile, we started to climb and in a just a couple of minutes, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Moss Glen Falls. Here the water tumbles out of a deep cut in the rocks above and comes sheeting and cascading down a rock face about 120 feet high.

It's as dry in Stowe as it is in Hatley, Quebec, this summer, so the water level is low. Still it was very impressive. These falls must be spectacular in springtime.

Jacob wanted to climb to the top, which we did, and then we clambered down into the little gorge at the top of the hill where the stream has cut deeply into the rock. In spite of the record heat this August, the water was fresh and mountain-spring cold.

We headed for the car (concert time was fast approaching) and Jacob was collecting pebbles as we picked our way down the trail. We were almost to the bottom when he let out a yelp that turned into a cry, grabbing at the nape of his neck.

I dropped the pack I was carrying and reached for him seeing a big yellow-jacket hornet on the little guy's head. I swatted it away and hustled Jacob and the pack down the hill.

He was more surprised than anything else, I suspect, though the two red welts that were already forming where the hornet had jabbed him suggested a generous helping of pain too. I was glad we hadn't stepped on a whole nest of her sisters.

We were at the foot of the falls and we walked over and sat at the edge of a pool of water. I dipped my hat in the water and wrung it out to make a cool compress for the stings. That helped a bit. The crying stopped.

Then Jacob picked up a little stone from the pool. It was worn smooth by the water, made cold by the springs above. He pressed it to the back of his neck and allowed himself a little sigh.

"The stone is healing me," he said solemnly.

For a few minutes we sat by the pool looking for other healing stones, then went back to Stowe to swing with the Air Force band.

Royal Orr is a writer and broadcaster living in Hatley, Quebec.

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