Spent some time among the trees today. Took my time. Sat down twice to be still and see my world up close. I looked around in the woods, snapped some photos. The ground I was standing and sitting on was my home, the Blue Ridge Mountains. Everywhere I look, I see the Blue Ridge Mountains on the inside among the trees native to the region. On the highway driving through wooded areas, I look as hard as I can at the leaf-covered ground, the tree trunks, the rocks, the ferns, and dream for a moment of walking in there, feeling the ground, seeing the scene from the inside. I can't look so hard when driving, but I take glances with focused attention for a second at a time. I love being in the woods. And I love being in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I feel a stillness among trees, a calm that brings me into tune with the slower life forms. Our human minds race so fast, we surely freak out the trees just walking among them. Or maybe they like the energy of our minds. More and more I like silence, seldom even put on the radio for news. Don't care much who is killing how many this week. The mountains, the trees around me were something of a free flowing mantra going on in my mind, the Blue Ridge Mountains, my home. Recently, everywhere I go in the mountain, out among the trees, walking in the meadow with Donkey Jack, driving, I see and stand upon my beloved mountains.
I like to see the mountains in the distance, big gray and white clouds boiling in the air currents I've learned in this southeastern quadrant of the county. I love it that I am able to look out over the Glade Valley and Ennice townships from Air Bellows Gap Road and see the clouds drifting in their currents of air flow. Today was a perfect day with clouds to see all the currents at once. I did not think to snap a picture, I was so engaged in seeing the clouds mapping out the flow in the air. In the woods I am in what for me is real church. The real deal. No collection, no preaching, no singing, no being nice when you don't feel like it, no wishing you were someplace else. When I sit down in the woods I am in stillness sublime. In the early years when I traveled all over this and surrounding mountains on foot, a dog was with me, a dog I loved to go walking with, Sadie. She was a tan and white fox dog, Airedale mix, good mind. She was only limited by my inability to teach her. Out in the woods, she was at home, just like I was, but even more for a dog. She could smell the tracks of every critter that had passed by in the last few days and nights. She read trails in the woods by scent when all I had to go by was sight. I'm like Mr Bo Jangles in the song, his dog up and died, after twenty years he still grieves. She was an ideal walking companion.
All these pictures were made from sitting in one spot, the scenery I was facing. This is where I felt in touch with the mountain today. I know this particular area very well from years past in days out walking with Sadie, and after Sadie, Aster, exploring the mountain, the trees, the water, the rocks. My house has pocket-sized rocks everywhere. Outside, I have rocks scattered about that I've brought home. It was in these mountains that I learned aesthetic appreciation for rocks. A rock is already the ideal sculpture. I picked up a nicely-shaped white one today, but did not want to carry it home and left it on an old stump covered with moss. Out walking I like to pick up the rock that calls my attention, the one I notice that says this is the one, the souvenir of the walk, pocket-sized. I have carried some fairly heavy ones home, too, believing at the moment I needed it someplace where I could see its beauty often. Along the walkway by the house I've placed rocks as big as both hands could lift into the back of the pickup from Whitetop Mountain. Whitetop has rocks like I've not seen anywhere else, not that I've seen everyplace, just that I think they're beautiful, angular, looking chiseled into abstract forms. I think of every rock as God's sculpture. Each one is shaped by its own experience. Some have rolled under glaciers so long ago it's inconceivable. Originally, rock was molten something on the order of lava when the earth was a ball of fire. I see the rocks as chunks of ice, frozen magma.
I don't know if I get "renewed" spending time in the forest. I tended today to think about the mountains, the Blue Ridge, how happy and grateful I am these mountains are my home. Today in the woods I felt embraced by spirit. I don't mean in a woo-woo way, but a clarity of mind, joy in everything I saw. These photos were all made from the same spot, the place I chose to sit down, not because the scenery in this spot is better than any other, only because I didn't feel like walking any further without a rest. It's no good to rush through the forest anyway. It is best appreciated sitting still. Without meditating I felt like the experience of this wooded area in this time was just right and put me into a meditative mind. I'd not seen this place in several years. It was a review of the mountain I love with all my heart, walking on last years leaves and ground spongy from a summer of rain. It felt good underfoot, the ideal carpet that your shoe sinks into just enough to give good traction. Patches of ferns I walked through carefully. I don't like to break them and don't like being unable to see the ground where I put my feet. The ferns are pretty but I'd rather walk through them with a dog leading the way. The serpents of the region are colored like the ground. A dog's awareness and senses are sharper than mine. I have to pay more attention without a dog.
Nothing in particular was on my mind. It drifted around in appreciation of the Blue Ridge, again, joy and gratitude that I'd found these mountains and become so well acquainted, know them on so many levels, and best of all, know them in my heart. The heart is where I know these mountains. These mountains helped to open my heart in very important ways. I've learned the landscape so well that in my later years, like old man Tom Pruitt, I don't need to get out there and see it much. It was like the mountain was telling me that I and the mountain are one. Today was a joyous review of a place I'd not seen in many a year. I feel like I know the different places I like to go to personally as a kind of spirit. Again, not woo-woo, but the clarity of the world outside the ways of the human mind. This is the world that inhales carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen. The trees are air filters for all the critters that need oxygen to inhale. We complete the cycle with the trees. They give me oxygen, I give them carbon-dioxide. Possibly freshness of air is what feels like spirit to me among the trees. Perhaps the fresh air is what I'm breathing and it gives the place a golden glow in the mind's eye. It's the stillness that makes me want to put up a tent and move in.
all photos by tj worthington