So far my blogging seems to have been rather serious and somber but all is not reading and writing and taxes (with April 15 coming up). Spring is here, and nature calls, and it’s good to get out in the world once in a while. I think it in order to report a recent joy to balance things out.

My good friend, Jon Ong, likes to go rock-climbing. An outdoorsy sort of person, he runs and hikes, snowshoes and snorkels, kayaks and fishes. Every once in a while he’ll tell me about going with some buddy or other to climb a local rock. A day or two ago I mentioned that I’d like to see him climb his rock but he said, “I don’t think you could take it.” “Sure I could,” I said. I think it occurred to him that he could both climb his rock and impress me, so he reconsidered and off we went, after I was warned that I should have on good hiking shoes to cover a little rough terrain.

My first surprise was how far away his rock was! To me, half an hour on the highway is quite a distance but the day was lovely and sunny, the weeping willows just starting to turn yellow and the maples showing a tinge of red. Finally, in rural Woodbury, he parked next to a pond and we headed into the woods. At first the ground was marshy but quickly turned rocky and rather treacherous for an old lady with a balance problem. I saw what I thought was a quite impressive rock but that wasn’t it. With a hand-up here and there and hanging on to occasional saplings along the way we, at last, reached THE ROCK.

It was a mammoth thing, 65 feet tall, all craggy and creviced. I guess you’d have to be a guy to understand why anyone would want to clamber up the vertical face of that thing! “I have to go to the top to set things up,” said Jon, and in a matter of minutes he had approached it from the rear and was up on top with his ropes and gadgets. As I sat there on a rock at the bottom three young men came hiking by. “Rock-climbing?” they asked. “Not me,” I said, pointing to Jon at the top. “I thought for a minute you were a witch,” one of them said. Well, what else would one think coming across an old hag sitting on a rock in a knitted cap with wisps of gray hair flying about? “I could cast you a spell or pray for you,” I said and off they went.

Jon was soon all harnessed up and his ropes attached to whatever. He let himself over the edge and gradually down to the bottom. Then came the moment of truth–to try to get himself to the top with nothing but hands and feet and brute strength. (I guess I forgot to mention he’s half my age and much more limber.) After testing here and there to get good hand-grips, pushing on little nubbins with his feet, and hoisting his body up he was soon spread-eagled halfway up the face of his rock. I was praying away. It was rather scary, despite the fact that he was harnessed. In between praying I had to marvel at the weird positions he got himself into. Even if my limbs had the range of motion to assume such positions, I’m sure my joints and muscles would have hurt for weeks (if not ruined forever) if subjected to that sort of strain and torsion.

It took a lot of skill and tenacity, but he made it! He let himself down on his ropes, and did it again! Bravo, Jon. Good job! I am impressed. We headed back to the car and decided to go to a nearby town to visit Jon’s brother’s home. We had a lovely visit with his family, and his Korean sister-in-law, Julia, treated me to cookies and a wonderful spicy tea. It was called Good Earth Sweet & Spicy, caffeine-free, and apparently naturally sweet. Very tasty. We sat for awhile by the fire, sipping tea and getting to know each other better, then headed for home about sunset.

The whole experience was a truly delightful, memorable interlude, and much appreciated.