I had an hour to kill in the middle of the day, so I parked at the old rifle range, and walked up the abandoned railroad bed to White Pond. The air was thick with humidity, and everything looked incredibly green from all the rain that’s fallen in July. Cicadas buzzed. A few birds braved the heat of the day. I passed through swamps caused by beaver dams. In places, the railroad bed was almost overgrown and only a thin path led through exuberant green shrubs and grass and poison ivy. Brilliant green leaves brushed against me from head to toe on both sides. At one point I noticed where a stand of white pines had dropped enough needles and shed enough shade to kill off most of the undergrowth; aside from that, I didn’t think of much of anything at all. Once the swamp ended and the woods began, the undergrowth mostly disappeared.
On the way back from White Pond, a Golden Labrador Retriever lay panting at the side of the trail, attended by a white-haired woman.
“That dog has the right idea,” I said. “It’s too hot to walk.”
“He’s gone lame,” said the woman. She had an English accent.
“What, does he have something in his paw?” I said.
“He walks a few yards, and then he stops and lies down,” she said. “My friend has gone to get the car.”
“He’s hot, too,” I said, watching him pant. “It’s very humid.”
“It is clammy,” she said. “I’ve just come over from England last night. We’ve been having some of the same weather over there.”
We chatted a bit, and then I said, “I’ try to carry him up to the road for you, but I think he’s a bit heavy for me.”
She laughed. “Oh, I didn’t expect you to offer to carry him up. He’ll be fine.”
Of the whole hour-long walk I took, most of what I can tell you about is that three-minute conversation. Aside from that, there are only general impressions of walking hard, sweat, gentle heat, damp air, greenness, small animals in the underbrush, flies, smell of grass and leaves — but there wasn’t much to be said about such basic physical impressions.