image of First Brother
My side of the mountain

Sitting by the shore at my home at Brant Lake I watched a group of  Mallard ducks resting under the old birch tree. An orange kayak glided silently by. In the midst of the lake, a powerful motorboat pulled a flock of children out for their daily tubing. In the nearby cove two men in a battered rowboat fished for the bass that I am convinced does not exist. If the bass does exist it has avoided me for over 40 years.

My line of vision extended across the lake and then, suddenly, halted as a row of mountains lined the distant shore. I could not see beyond them. Off in the distance First Brother blocked my view.

There is a story that one day a European mountain climber lay in his yard and watched a puffy white cloud gracefully soar over a distant peak. Curious to see where the cloud went the mountaineer climbed the mountain where the cloud had disappeared, only to find other mountains that stretched into the horizon. From that experience the man became a professional mountain climber–-he wanted to know what lay beyond.

I don’t have either the willpower or the strength to climb First Brother, to view what lies beyond. Instead I can only stare across the lake and see a dark wall of evergreens.

I wonder, if I could climb my side of the mountain, what would I discover on the other side? Perhaps there is another forest of evergreens, or I might look down on a village. Pottersville, Adirondack, Schroon Lake? I may never know. I am left with uncertainty.

As I relax in this tranquil setting I realize we all live in a time of uncertainty. What lies on the other side of the coronavirus? What will tomorrow bring? I am pondering the unknowable. I seek assurance but only one side of the mountain reveals its face. Only one side.

All I can do is live with uncertainty. That is all we have at the moment.

All that is certain is uncertainty.

Brant Lake Sheltering

8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Dan,
    The theme of your current blog, uncertainty, certainly describes the dangerous political and social environment that face us all. You, however, are more fortunate than many others as your loons are part of a restful and picturesque ambience, while the loons that many of us confront daily are reckless, disturbing, and without rhyme nor reason. To paraphrase a blessing from Fiddler on the Roof, “May God keep our loons… far away from us.” “l’shanah tovah tikatevu ve techatemu”


  2. Lovely, Dan… Your words are the comfort we need to recognize it is not only okay, but necessary, that we find the favor in the acceptance of uncertainty.


  3. Nice Dan. Really nice as always.
    May I add a thought please. Uncertainty is certain alright. But a lot of that uncertainty is due to our collective unwillingness to acknowledge that which is certain, that which is reality. What is certain? Global warming and humanity’s role in it is certain. Loss of biodiversity thru degradation of natural habitat and loss of species are certain. Those are certainties as are the dire consequences of them. Perhaps if a far greater number of people, and particularly their leaders, confronted those realities and acted accordingly we would, as a species, reduce our uncertainties and improve our chances for survival and the good life the Earth can provide – the other side of that mountain.
    Thank you G’Rabbi Dan
    Carl Axelsen


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