Saturday, April 27, 2013

Another Left Behind

 Here's another little thing, no bigger than that, from the bottom of a box of books.  A tourist's souvenir, provided  by the hotel, as can be seen on the last page -- reproduced at the bottom of the post -- which advertises "Champlain steamers lade at the foot of the grounds four times daily."
 I haven't any connection I'm aware of with upstate NY, and no reason to think I'll ever be tempted to explore the natural beauties of the Ausable Chasm, chasms never having been much to my liking.  I assume that the scenes depicted are still there to be seen, though presumably not the hotel.  (A quick glance via the interwebs finds no such.)
 What I like about this little cardboard book, and what made me keep it out of the box of discards, is nothing really to do with the urge to visit natural wonders.  I'm not one for charming old inns for that matter.  I like that the object itself has survived.  I think it quite beautiful.  There's no date in it, no acknowledgement of a photographer, no suggestion even of a printer.  From the room-tates listed, starting at four dollars a night at the Inn, I have to assume this dates from some time at the turn of the last century or thereabouts.  Other than that, I don't really know, or need to know anything else about it.  It has survived and that alone is suggestive.
 Was it a memento of a long ago trip, perhaps a honeymoon?  Seems a beautiful spot.  Not my idea of a romantic vacation, paddling a rowboat between rock walls, but there are the falls to be seen, perhaps even at night, and a broad lawn for picnics at the hotel.  One could do worse.  Anyway, someone tucked this little book away for more years than I've been alive.  Someone attached some significance to these scenes.

And it is, or was, at least in these beautiful photographs, all rather dreamy and sunlit; there's a shine to even the most placid waters, and a grandeur to this place I'll never go.   These a suggestion to my eye of lost time, even a timelessness in which to lose oneself, if only for the few minutes it takes to study the few pages here.

I've resisted the urge to look up these same scenes now.  Easy enough to do, I should think, if I wanted to.  I can't help picturing parking-lots now, and motor-coaches disgorging people who only look at it all later, on their phones.  If the place is now unrecognizable, that would be a pity, but not a surprise.  Instead, I think I prefer to just look at this discarded little book, and explore the photographs rather than the place itself.

There is something genuinely beautiful in this for being lost.  That's enough, of itself, to find something lovely and mysterious at the bottom of a dusty box of books.

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