Phyllis Donovan: Mountains Constant But Ever Changing

“What a beautiful view of the mountains you have,” a recent visitor exclaimed as she looked out of our living room window wall on a recent cold sunny day.

“That’s why we chose this lot to have our house built on decades ago when Joe and Sam Carabetta were building homes here,” I told her.

Further back when we were undergraduates at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass., my husband and I had both taken courses in geology. Our very first geology textbook included a photo of “the Hanging Hills of Meriden.” These precipitous basalt ridges were a classic example of ancient volcanic action begun 200 million years ago and their history had intrigued us.

Little did we know, back in those college days, that we would be settling our family here in Meriden with those very mountains so close by.

Arriving in the area, we soon discovered that new houses were being built at that time on the east side of the city on a hill looking directly across to those geologically famous mountains. It seemed more than coincidental.

From the home we had built here, East Peak blends into the side of West Peak so it often looks like only one big mountain over there. But on clear sunny days, we can see the definition between the two. And with binoculars, we can even see Castle Craig on East Peak and the cars moving along the highway past the mountains.

The thing I have liked best about “our mountains” over the years is that they seem to change constantly. Sometimes when the fog is thick, like during the mild weather holidays this year, the mountains simply vanish. You would never even know they were there. These “weather whiteouts" also happen on rainy or snowy days.

Then, on usually sunny bright days following a snowstorm, the snow lying in the ridges of the mountains accentuates their striation, making them look intricately beautiful.

On many days when the sun is shining and the air is clear, they are so sharply defined that the very sight of them moves me. On that kind of day, I just wish that everyone in sight of those mountains could rejoice in their majesty.

I remember being with my husband at a conference in Seattle years ago in gloomy weather when Mount Rainier was totally invisible for several days. When the sun finally shone and the entire mountain magically appeared clear up to its snow-covered peak, people on the city streets were actually reminding each other to look at it. “The mountain is out, the mountain is out” we kept hearing them say.

When our mountains are looking their best, I know just how those people felt when they looked at their own handsome but so often cloud-shrouded mountain. Like my late husband, who was always the first one to want to share our view with others, I just want to shout, "the mountains are out' to anyone who will listen.

So people shouldn’t be surprised next time they visit me on a clear day, no matter the season, if I urge them to look across the way and admire our own elegant mountains, a sight I have been marveling about for so many years.


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