I haven’t caught the time exactly right in years, but on Friday the whole hillside was in bloom. The azaleas are open in Pittsfield State Forest, where the Taconic Crest Trail crosses the ridge above berry pond.
You can walk through, but I drove up in the afternoon. You wind up the hill, and up the hill, and through the woods, and as the road comes into the open the bushes appear on either side in a wave crest of flowers. One or two, and then a foam, and then a flood.
The road rises as you look for them. And just where it seems to plummit away below your tires, a sandy lot opens on the right, and you can pull off and look clear across the valley into New York, to the distant range of mountains.
From here it’s an amble a few steps downhill to the azalea groves. An enterprising brush-hogger has shaped paths between them, and the bushes curve overhead almost twice my height, thick with blossoms. Lavish with blossoms. Saturated. They have a fresh, light scent, nothing as heady and sweet as lilac. But it carries.
I walked down to the pond and watched the birch leaves send shadows over pale truncks, and I was standing on the far shore when the breeze lifted, and I was sure it held a gentle sweetness blown down from the hill.