I took a different route to work this morning, dropping down the eastern side of the Housatonic of River Road between Falls Village and West Cornwall. The road turns to gravel at the Cornwall line, and follows the narrow ground alongside the Housatonic River and the freight line. The trees are thick at the roadside and the high walls of the gorge rise up on either side of the river. It was a cool morning, crisp and autumnal without the humidity of recent weeks. I didn't wish to rush the journey.
There are several places along this section of river where cars can pull out and canoes can put in. I parked at one of these, wide enough for two vehicles because it is perched on what was once a stone bridge abutment. Its mate on the opposite bank is largely intact but shrouded in riverine vegetation - sycamore and elm and ash. The riverside is tumbled stone, boulders scoured by glacier and flood and pocked by stone-fly larvae. There are raccoon tracks in the silt at the river bend, and the carapaces of crayfish lie scattered on the rocks.
The sunlight played on the water in a wide sweep before me, the river bolting out of the shadows above and swirling around a bend not far downstream. The air was thick with darting swallows. A great blue heron winged down the gorge as I stood on the shore, and a sandpiper with yellow legs hopped along the far bank.
The Housatonic is shallow enough here during low water to wade the stream were one so inclined, and pours through riffles and emergent stones. Mergansers cluster on sunny rocks. Water trickles down the bank at intervals from clefts in the hillside. There were freshwater mussel shells, large as surf clams, in the shallows. You cannot hear the traffic high up the western slope where my regular commute follows the twists and turns of Rte 7. A single vehicle passed behind me during my stream side idyll.
Finally, feeling the tug of my waiting office downstream, I reluctantly climbed up the bank and drove slowly down the road and over the covered bridge at West Cornwall to rejoin the mainstream of traffic and travelers once more. I plan to take more of these diversions as the season turns toward Autumn and the golden light on the dark water is kissed by falling leaves instead of skimming swallows.