Do you have a favorite place where you can get away and rejuvenate?
My friends and I sometimes go to what is simply referred to as The Mountain. It is a physical place where a long leisurely drive upward to the summit will reveal all sorts of beauty.
In the Spring, when the buds are just coming on the trees, the lovely dogwoods show their pristine beauty, peeking up from under the larger trees. Mayapples and trillium call to them to show off but they remain timid in their humble pale innocence. Deer, so tame you can almost pet them, graze on the tender grasses that cover the roadsides. They halt, raise their elegant heads, and stare with their beautiful eyes, as we pass. Unconcerned.
In Summer the trees are all out in full force, offering cooling shade to those who venture into the heat of the season. There is always a breeze on The Mountain. And there always seem to be hikers and bikers and even horseback riders on the trails that crisscross the terrain.
On an evening drive, we have seen all manner of wild animals, including what we believe was a bear. We know the mountain lions will not appear and we sincerely hope to never see one. But a bobcat might give you a glimpse as it ducks out of sight into the underbrush. An evening drive will also reveal the usual array of skunks, possums, and raccoons. It’s a wild place that wild animals call home.
Autumn comes in a riot of color, making every variety of tree and shrub shine in brilliance. All the animals are hurriedly stocking up stores for whatever the cold of winter might bring. Squirrels frantically bury foodstuffs for later use, then hurry off to find more loot.
I’ve never been to The Mountain in Winter. I’m much like the animals; I burrow in and only venture out in the cold when I must. Maybe someday I’ll go, just to say I’ve done it. There are walking trails and overlooks all over the place and we stop often to check out the scenery. Sheer rock faces on one side. A river far below, winding its way leisurely through the valley. Even though we can look over the tops of trees to the other side, this is not a tall mountain. The air is not rarified. And yet it is. It can leave you breathless.
We choose a place to sit so we can watch the sunset. This is a perfect place for sunsets and, though the day had been overcast, as the time grew closer for the sun to make its descent, the clouds had all dissipated and the sky had become clear.
We have all seen a thousand sunsets but each one is so different from the one before. Its colors, its shading, the sheer magnificence of it can never be replicated. Some of our group wander around with cameras, trying to find the best vantage point. But mostly we sit on the rock wall and absorb the wonder as Mother Nature paints a masterpiece just for us. We stop talking. We stop fidgeting. We just drink it in for we know it doesn’t last long.
This group of friends understands that Mother Nature is a healer. And she can work her wonders with such little effort. We all know that letting the wind blow against your cheeks and through your hair as you stand on a rock outcropping on the edge of the cliff is like a kiss from a loved one. It is fulfilling. Walking barefoot through the grass puts us in touch with things we have long forgotten and reminds us of the wonder of being alive. These are things we need to remember.
As the light continues to fade, turning pinks to red and oranges to gold, we know it’s almost over. But we stay, committing every nuance to memory and trying desperately to capture the majesty with our cameras. We never can. The first star appears. Venus, I think. And yet, we stay in quiet contemplation. Eventually, when every trace of color has faded from the sky and all we can see are shades of blue and black, we rise and pack up for the ride back down the Mountain. We have a long drive home. But we are refreshed.
Do you have a ‘mountain’ where you can go to get away? Is it a real mountain? Or the beach?
Or the back yard around the fire pit? Maybe your mountain isn’t a place at all, but the time spent with those you love and those who understand you. What is your mountain?