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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

IN THE FLOW ON AIR BELLOWS MOUNTAIN

claude monet

Overcast sky today, threatening to rain all day and never did. The forecast was for rain. I watched the rhododendron leaves out the window from time to time for sign of raindrops. At the first sign of rain I would back the car down the hill to the barn and carry three bales to the donkey feeding station before rain. I wanted to do several things before wrestling the hay, knowing when I've brought up the three bales, packed them, carried some into the meadow for donkeys, I'd be tired. Planned to carry the hay last, then have a nap. The rain never came, I stretched out on the bed and woke up. Spent half an hour wondering why I was staying in the bed when it was obvious I was not headed for sleep. To rest. I needed to rest. To lie down for half an hour is sometimes as good a rest as a nap. Working on the farm, tired, needing a break, I would lie down on my back and watch the clouds. It worked so well and so fast I learned all I needed was to watch the clouds until I saw them move. It takes a moment looking up at the clouds to see their motion. First glance, they're still. Wait just a few seconds and they start moving, rather my eyes notice. I would lie there and watch the clouds move. Ready to get up and back to work refreshed. It was a way to take a break and not waste any time while I'm working. Had a lot to do and had to keep up with it. In less than a minute I was ready to go again. It helped keep me in tune, too. A brief meditation, a clearing of the mind. Looking at clouds helps clear my mind almost instantly. In motion, I only see the clouds still. I have to be still before I can see the clouds move. Lying on my back in the meadow watching clouds is the most relaxing thing I know. I've found the air currents of the southern part of the county watching the flow of clouds.  

claude monet

The air currents here on Air Bellows mountain run every which way. I'm in a holler between two ridges, north and south, and another ridge about three hundred yards to the east that runs perpendicular to the other two, and a ridge to the west about the same distance. Sometimes the wind whips around in this oddly shaped bowl in turbulence patterns. One moment the wind will be blowing one way and another moment the wind is swirling in a different direction. Wind blowing north and south, the ridges slope the wind up over my glen. The trees on the ridges above roar like a flying train and not a leaf down here will even be moving. The wind blowing east or west runs right through here. I like to pay attention to the wind as an aspect of flow. Water flows. Blood flows. Mind flows. A turning wheel flows. Most of the time in my holler the wind does not move very fast. The location of this house is in harmony with the surrounding landscape. Just a few hundred yards to the west around a curve runs the wind channel of Air Bellows Gap. The wind flows through there in a pattern so different from the patterns around the house it seems odd it's so close. The channel is a river of air. My holler is a still pool at the side of a mountain stream, outside the current, slowly renewed by the current, a still, quiet place. The air current through Air Bellows Gap flows around a bend and follows the channel of the creek to the waterfalls, down the creek to Whitehead, then up to Fender mountain and beyond into another current. I've been told this gap was given its name Air Bellows for the wind blowing through it both ways. I like living at three thousand feet in the Southern mountains.

claude monet

Low-flying clouds creep over the mountain, fog all day. A foggy day is beautiful every time of year. Many times I have been someplace else, like Pine Swamp, the township to the east of Whitehead, and saw my mountain in the distance covered by a cloud crawling over the long ridge the Parkway follows. I have walked the ridge from the house to Bullhead and all the way out to the far end of the mountain. Walking in these mountains is how I found home here. In the early years I walked long distances with the dog, learning the deer trails, the varieties of trees, outcroppings of rock, the creeks, the waterfalls. Two of the waterfalls in Air Bellows draw visitors, but at least four other waterfalls are tucked out of the way in wooded spaces only hunters see. There are even places that are waterfalls in a big rain and not even a creek when it's not raining. There was a time the then director of the Chamber of Commerce asked me for a waterfall photograph for the cover of one of their small tourism magazines advertising local businesses. I didn't want to make the Air Bellows falls a tourist attraction. This is not a state park and people from away never get it that people own the land they're trespassing. That's not entirely true, but enough to make it seem true. I took him a photograph of a small, beautiful waterfall with a nice rock beside it, some ferns and moss around. He loved the picture. After the magazine was done, he asked me where the waterfall was. I told him it is only a waterfall during a rain and a short time after. It doesn't exist. He didn't know what to do with that. His face fell in such a way I suspected he'd been asked how to find the waterfall in the picture. I doubt he gave such an answer to the question next time. Probably said he didn't know. He was way into promoting and advertising, selling the county. I am philosophically opposed to that mind, explaining why I turned in the picture of a waterfall that is not a waterfall.

claude monet

For several years I would take a day and go to the woods with a book, a notebook, a pen, a thermos of hot tea and an apple or two. I'd go with dog to a place along the creek, a big flat rock in the creek, a flat rock beside the creek, anyplace I wanted to sit along the creek. My favorite spot was a rock that projected into the creek from the side, covered in moss, flat on top, a nice mossy bed, rhododendron, trees, a small waterfall to the right a short distance, and the creek, Waterfalls Creek, flowing down the hill to the left toward the big waterfalls farther on. Enough room on top of the rock to sit and place my things, and room for dog to stretch out behind me as I sat facing the water. She, Sadie, would explore the woods all day, coming back to me from time to time. I would mostly sit and watch the flow of the water. I have seen some rare occurrences sitting on the rock. This was in the time native trout lived in the creek, before the Christmas tree invasion that poisoned the ground and the water of Air Bellows and all the water downstream into the Little River. The springs on this mountain are the beginning of the Little River. The trout are gone, the ecosystem along the creeks is gone, the minnows, the water snakes, gone. The water is now dead. Back in the time it was living, the rock I sat on had a small pool to the right I looked down into. After sitting still for an hour, the trout came out from hiding and swam around in the pool, living their lives. This one day I saw a female trout in a shallow place where the water ran over small rocks, a male beside her. Two males took turns. One would shimmy beside her for awhile and swim out into the pool. Another male was waiting his turn and moved in to shimmy beside her. By the time he finished, the other was ready to go again. They made the round several times. After she'd shed all her eggs, she swam back and rejoined the extended family circling in the pool. Another time a water snake gave me a show of how beautifully a snake can swim. It was a swimming dance. As beautiful a thing as I've ever seen.

claude monet himself


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3 comments:


  1. what a lovely place you have chosen to live your life out. I am sorry that your little piece of heaven has gone the way of many others with pollution, greed and people killing the waters and spoiling the land but glad you could enjoy it... before it happened...Beautiful description of a beautiful place...New generations are missing so much by not taking time to look up and muse over the clouds...letting their imaginations go wild and learning so much from what they see...I think we are going to evolve into a hunched animal we are so busy gazing down out our electronics..missing all that is good and beautiful when looking up...

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  2. Darlene, I remember when I saw the first rusty line on the horizon of pollution in early morning. It was in the mid 1980s. It was about fifteen years ago the Christmas tree growers killed the water on the mountain. Even salamanders are rare now that the springs are poison. The county govt advises residents not to drink spring water. How great. Instead of taking intelligent measures to keep the water safe, they issue warnings not to drink it. The christmas tree growers pay the most taxes. They rule. One thing we're evolving for sure is desert over all the earth. I take care of my 8 acres in good conscience, all I can do.

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