James Trainor


From a ‘Wounderous’ Place

From a ‘Wounderous’ Place

Climb the dizzying heights of Kaaterskill Falls in New York’s Catskill Mountains today (and it is officially advised you do not; every year an ill-judged step, a foolhardy shortcut, or a miscalculated handhold brings news in local papers of yet another fatal plummet) and you will discover the unheralded rockbound literature of this place.

Cabinet, Issue 53, Spring 2014

Oh Mercury! Scenery by the square foot! Sublimity by the Quintal!
—Willis Gaylord Clark, “Ollapodiana" Number XXI,” The Knickerbocker or New-York Monthly Magazine, November 1837

On the densely wooded flanks of the mountain, I found that I had absentmindedly strayed from the faint hiking trail and descended a similar but unmarked path: a path that was no path, a series of gently shelving bluestone slabs, fractured and worn, with dark mosses and lichen mottling the sides of nearby boulders and tree trunks. For no particular reason, I paused on one random ledge and gazed down at the dried leaves and gravel at my feet. One curving bit of fallen foliage caught my eye. The filigree of its stem, hidden under some other leaf litter, seemed almost a thing designed. I bent down and sifted through the pinecones and pebbles and found that it indeed was handmade: the letter "S", incised with an exquisite grace in the stone beneath...

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