Driving to the Y this morning, I made my usual stop at the end of Geiser Road before turning left onto Route 43. All clear, I thought. I glanced again – an enormous truck was barreling down the hill, hauling two trailers piled with gigantic logs. If I’d made that turn, I’d have been history.
I was on my way to Nia class. Late in that class last week, we were winding down with floor work when the instructor said “Strike a sexy pose and remember Harmony, who passed away recently.”
A shock wave swept over me. That Harmony? The one with the azure eyes, the dazzling smile, the drop-dead figure she liked to show off in skin-tight clothes? Yes, that Harmony. After class, I learned from the instructor Laura Bulatao that Harmony had been driving back from a workshop in Saratoga, when her car inexplicably swerved into the opposite lane and smashed into a pickup truck. Her given name was Elizabeth Martin. She’d been the author of a bestselling book, Over 30 6 Week All Natural Beauty Plan, and she was just one year younger than me.
At the end of the Nia class, as I settled into Savasana, the corpse pose, I thought about Harmony and how fragile we are. In mystery fiction, there’s usually a reason for death, no matter how warped or evil that reason may be. In real life, sometimes there’s no reason at all.
The painting above is Death on Ridge Road by Grant Wood, who’s best known for American Gothic. Painted in 1935, it’s in the Williams College Museum of Art, a gift from Cole Porter, a Williams grad with exquisite taste. The museum makes an excellent day trip from Albany’s Capital District, and it’s free. And while you’re in western Massachusetts, check out the Clark Art Institute (fabulous impressionist and Winslow Homer collections) and/or MASS MoCA (avant garde art in an enormous old factory complex). The latter two are not free, but are well worth the visit. Seeing all three in a day is a bit much, but two out of three ain’t bad.