I returned to Doubletop late last September, seventeen years after Nat and I climbed the mountain on that mid-summer day in 1991. Back in May, my wife Sukie had made reservations at the Park, hoping to spend a few days of solitude painting by the shores of Kidney Pond. However, with events unfolding as they did, her solo expedition turned into a long weekend for two, which offered me the opportunity to say goodbye to Nat.
I climbed Doubletop alone this time and was feeling my age as I scaled that steep, timbered slope to the summit. Only in the fifties down below, it was cold on top, with a strong wind blowing from the south. But it was a cloudless day and the sun shone brightly and I was cozy under a few layers of fleece and a windbreaker. I found the flat expanse of granite where Nat and I stood arm in arm for our photo. A Mourning Cloak, a large dark butterfly with bright yellow fringes on its wings, flitted across the ledge and was gone. After lingering for an hour or so, I put my pack on and reluctantly headed down the mountainside. Turning once to gaze back up at the south summit, I spoke under my breath and then aloud: “I love you, my brother.”
Further on, walking along an old logging road down into the lowlands, the trail was littered with fallen yellow birch leaves and, here and there, a red maple leaf. The autumnal equinox was just hours away and the turning of the seasons was everywhere evident. Mother loons had been out on the pond this week. In preparation for their coming flight to the coastal waters for the winter, they were busy feeding minnows to their now almost full grown chicks. Just before 4 o’clock, Sukie greeted me with a hug back at the cabin. It was time for a hot cup of tea.
(DSH Photo: Sukie Painting on the Shores of Kidney Pond)