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The next two days will be long.
Not for me, but rather for you – – – that is – – – if you read the whole thing.
Just a warning. Don’t become alarmed. Well – – – not yet anyway.
Today we will discuss the past. Tomorrow we will discuss the future.
HELP ME; I’VE LOST MY IDENTITY AND CAN’T FIND IT
I open this story with the only three things I can remember from my childhood; defined here as five years of age or younger.
First, and least important, I remember being in my crib and a man was looking through my window.
Second, and relatively unimportant, I fell into a swamp and almost drowned.
Third, and most importantly, I asked my mother who I was before I was me.
She almost went bezerk.
Now that we have the “possibly important facts” out of the way let us look at my stories in this book.
First, it started out as just a bunch of vintage Adirondack prints from the mid-1800′s.
Then I realized these prints needed a spokesman; so I invented Tahauwas, a take-off on “Tahawus” the original name of Mt. Marcy.
Tahauwas’ job was to keep the Adirondacks, in our memory if not in reality, as they originally were. They were left in our care by someone (I think it was God but you can put whoever you want in his place).
My stories have normally centered around “others.”
But this one is all about me.
This was originally intended to be short. In fact, it turned out to be the longest one in this series.The facts are as follows. They came to light as I looked for additional 1800′s Adirondack Mountain prints.
Those are all my confessions. Now we get on with the facts
First I was using MOA, the Making Of America, a digital Cornell University site.
As you can see I was looking at a September, 1859 issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. I had homed in on “A Forest Story” written by T. Addison (full name T. Addison Richards).
Now you must remember that I am really “Tomosky” parading as “Tahauwas.” Why I decided to spell Tahawus as Tahauwas is beyond me. But Tahauwas I am, named after the Mountain that some fools renamed Mt. Marcy.
Well – – – let’s just let that go and not dwell on what they have done.
Let’s concentrate on my story; which I must admit, is terribly disjointed at this moment.
Something popped out of the page at me. It was the Adirondack Guide Tahawus who I was supposed to be.
I existed before I now exist.
As the story opens the writer, T. Addison Richards, finds himself in the midst of the thick Adirondack undergrowth and already misses the guide he found at Saranac. In the third paragraph of the story we find that the guide’s name is Tahawus.
But I am Tahauwas the Adirondack Guide. How could T. Addison Richards know such a fact seventy-eight years before I was born; 1938. Or maybe I should be asking myself how did I know I was someone “before I was me?” And how did I know I was to be Tahauwas?
But, on the other hand, what did T. Addison Richards know about Tahawus?
Ah yes! Addison’s view of me was that I was mercurial and would have been worse had not the beauty of the Adirondack Woods smoothed out my rough edges; he termed me a “misanthrope.” He also assumed I had made my village sweetheart, “Polly Ann”, into a scornful person.
But then, much to Addison’s grief, he and his companion lose sight of the Mountain Trail and become lost. Now what does Addison do? He quickly reverses his viewpoint of me and knows that I would be of help. He almost sounds like he is in the middle of an atonement.
Desperate people do desperate things.
And through the night the men worried that there would be no survival. They had fired their guns, the normal signal for those lost, but to no avail. It was a fitful night. But then – – –
Now it is really getting scary. How did T. Addison Richards know that I had a close fishing and hunting pal by the name of Wescott? Not only did “my Wescott” know the Adirondacks but he was a 49′r; one of those people who climbed all 49 of the tallest Adirondack peaks.
There I was, reading what was supposed to be a nice North Woods story and looking at beautiful old prints but instead wondering if I am alive now or was I alive then – – – or yet – – – maybe both.
However, “A Forest Story” continued on. The two recently found men and the two guides, Tahawus and Wescott, are walking through the woods to their destination. A voice is heard and it is not a man’s.
Tahawus defended the capabilities of women in these forests. Following through, he suggested that they travel together. The party now numbered eight or nine, depending on whether you counted the hired help.
The troupe of eight thought they would see the whole of the area around the McIntyre Iron Works.
The party of eight followed their hearts to the following areas.
Now, as it turns out, the hired help is named Marianna. The ladies that she serves are quite inept in a canoe and can only catch fish when there are so many that the fish put themselves on the hook.
Marianna, in her apparent haste to learn the way of the North Woods, becomes a little to familiar with her watercraft and falls out. Tahawus comes to her rescue and pulls her into his skiff. Eyes meet and then glance to see if anyone has noticed.
On the next outing Tahawus shoots at their supper, a deer, but only wounds it. Marianna stands up in his skiff, grabs a gun and dispatches the deer with one shot.
Tahawus, or was it I, did not become irate at the situation. Just the opposite, he lauded her shooting and awarded the deer to her even though his first shot had wounded it.
In the end the party decided that the ascension of Mount Marcy would be the crowning glory of their newly combined group.
The view of the Santoni Range was marvelous.
Addison Richards decided that before the group departed he had to make a good farewell to Tahawus. It was not a farewell he took lightly. However, Tahawus had company.
And then T. Addison Richards, assuming that Tahawus was abandoning Polly Ann, attempted to make light of the uncomfortable situation.
So now we know that Tahawus was not mercurial nor a cad. We know that Marianna and Polly Ann were one and the same, and, as a bonus, she was already familiar with the North Woods.
Where does that leave me – – – and poor Wescott who never asked to be part of this story? He never poked around in old documents.
The only thing that I can advise you is don’t poke around in things that you have no business poking around in.
Am I Tomosky? Am I Tahawus? Or is this experience telling me I am T. Addison Richards? We are both writers separated by over one hundred years. Well – – – he is an artist – – – and an author – – – I write words; there is a big difference.
“MOM – – – – WHO WAS I BEFORE I WAS ME?”