Monday, May 25, 2020

Pyramid Lake, Loved But Off-limits This Year

 For the first time since 1992, I am not spending Memorial Weekend helping to ready Pyramid Life Center for its summer season of spiritual retreats. Because of the need for social distancing during this Covid-19 pandemic, the center's director has asked all of us volunteers to remain at home this spring, while the center's staff will prepare the grounds and lodgings for what we hope may yet be some summer programs.
Pyramid Life Center is located on Pyramid Lake in Essex County, NY, a lake that is certainly one of the jewels of the Adirondacks. But this crystal-clear wilderness lake encircled by forested mountains means far more to me than just a pretty place to spend a holiday weekend. Pyramid Life Center is a spiritual retreat center to which I fled in the summer of 1991, full of anguish over the war my nation had started against Iraq, angry and sad that my fellow Americans were so excited and proud and happy to go to war. And here, at a retreat with Jesuit priest and anti-war activist Daniel Berrigan, I found I was not alone in my feelings of alienation.
Even more than that, here I found heroes -- social workers, drug counselors, healthcare providers, advocates for the homeless and poor -- whose witness gave me the courage to choose for myself a more authentic way to live. I left a public-relations job that required me to be very nice to the very rich just because they were very rich, to learn how to care for the dying as a nursing assistant for Hospice -- a choice that eventually brought me far more joy and spiritual riches than I ever dreamed possible. So yes, my love for Pyramid Life Center runs very deep, indeed.
I am posting here three photos of Pyramid Lake. The one above, at the top of this post, was taken at dawn just as the rising sun was touching the island's trees with gold and a loon was sounding his haunting calls across the still water.  
This next one, below, was taken late in the day when the lowering sun colored the cliffs of the mountain the color of fire. Cue the loons, once more!

After working all day to clean guest rooms in the center's big lodge, I would often slip my canoe in the water after dinner and paddle around to the east side of the lake.  There, I would linger among enormous boulders that had tumbled down from the mountain above to the water's edge.  This gave me clear view of the setting sun as it sank behind the far mountains, the lake reflecting the sunset's  glory on its liquid-silver, gently rippling surface.

I also include a photo of the beautiful Wild Purple Clematis (Clematis occidentalis), a gorgeous lime-loving wildflower that I have never found elsewhere except tumbling across some marble boulders that line the entry road to Pyramid Life Center. 

I can't witness these wonders in person this year, but at least I can feast my eyes on their photographs.

I am also consoled by knowing where to find some pretty marvelous flowers much closer to home.  I abused my still-recovering hand a bit yesterday, when I hauled myself, crawling and grasping at saplings, up a steep rocky embankment because I just HAD to photograph the gorgeous Yellow Lady's Slippers I knew would be growing there.  And I was not disappointed.

There were fewer of these gorgeous native orchids than I had found last year, but at least one of them bore twin blooms.  This is not a rare occurrence for Yellow Lady's Slippers, but I always delight to find them. (Cypripedium parviflorum is this wild orchid's scientific name.)


Woody Meristem said...

So much is disrupted this year and so many people have lost their lives -- and much of both could have been avoided but for politics.

On a happier note, the yellow lady's-slippers are beautiful.

The Furry Gnome said...

I love those Yellow Ladyslippers! And your gorgeous pictures of Pyramid Lake!