In the northeast Georgia mountains where the air is rich and sweet, lies a gift I ache for often. The majestic wildness that exists in the remote areas of my youth is embedded in my soul. There in that wild, I was once free. Free from all the things people cause that nature helps you to forget. I was free in the way a bird is free or maybe a tree as it sleeps quietly, deep in the forest. I would appreciate the daffodils and buttercups blooming, drawing in their rich scent as they mingled with the dogwoods. I stood viscerally aware of the dew collecting and the mist rising as the sun came up over the mountain tops. I could lie in the grass and stare up at the clouds for hours knowing that I was held by the earth and yet free to leave her at any time. I could close my eyes and listen to the earth as she transitioned from morning to night. The grand expanse of the southern night sky is so breathtaking and almost overwhelming. Sheer size competes for thoughts of the unknown. There is an unspoken limitlessness to it all. Counting stars would take a lifetime. Nothing hinders the magnificence of the night sky in this place. They say that sight ends at the horizon from the tallest peak, but life doesn’t. You know without knowing that there is so much more. I will yearn for the mountain air in my lungs and the sweet grass under my feet. My ears absent the sounds of the woods and my eyes deprived of its beauty, but I will not forget.
I remember pulling life from the earth as a child, so in awe of the magic that could be found by digging my fingers into the ground. Eyes closed and nose deep into a flower, pollen all over my face and hands. Catching butterflies just to wonder at their beauty. Unraveling the mystery of all natural things was a game with no end. I would over turn rocks and tree stumps out of mere curiosity. I was taught to inspect rocks for precious stones. Garnet and Micah were just lying there waiting to be found. I had a coffee can in which I kept all my treasures. Even the tiny turtle that I found walking through a creek became the center of my fascination and he spent time in that coffee can. Walks through the forest often revealed larger yet more subtle surprises. The rabbits and deer lived secretly, their only desires were peace and freedom. Peace to roam and raise children. Freedom to forage and make homes. The owls and woodpeckers are careful watchers of the land, alerting all of the creatures of impending dangers and doom. Of course there was the river as well. You could follow the sound of the river for miles before you found it. The greenery changes shape on your way. Leaves begin to show long, wide, and flat. The water drowns out the other sounds of life as it smashes into rocks and itself. Standing at the edge of the river is to stand at the edge of the earth. All things spring from here. All earth is changed by the river and its power. I stand and watch her in awe. Everything that lives here, from the spiders to the beautiful black bears lives as though time is irrelevant and nothing else matters but the rising and setting of the sun.
My grandmother’s bedroom had sliding glass doors and a tiny balcony. She had sheer white curtains and heavier drapes of many colors over the years. I would watch the seasons change through that glass. The leaves fell each autumn, so thick and whimsical. The snow that came was absolute white, soft and pure. The snow made everything new again. The silence of the wood in winter was deafening. I could hold out my hand to catch the flakes and watch my breath, my heartbeat the loudest sound. Spring would happen so quickly you could truly miss it if you slept. The whole world came alive in bursts of green and bright fragrant colors. Each year the leaves turned to snow and the snow turned to grass and the grass once more lost to leaves. I find myself only able to use the word peaceful when I describe this view and these woods. If I could capture it inside a globe and watch it for eternity I would. I loved what was outside those glass doors with my whole being.
I once stood in a field watching a storm roll in. I stood in eager determination as the thunder growled closer with every breeze. Barefoot with my feet in the summer grass I stood desperate for something I couldn’t quite name then, and maybe still cannot name now. I was fearless in my need for answers or power, or maybe just recognition that I was more than a story written for me by others. I watched as the lightning struck closer and closer. Daring it to strike me. I heard the birds call to each other as I watched them take cover. I felt the darkness of the storm before I saw it with my eyes. I felt the temperature and pressure change around me. I would not be moved. Something inside my heart was breaking and healing simultaneously. Something stirred my spirit as the wind whipped through my hair and the first drops of rain began to fall. I screamed in answer to the earth shaking booms that continued to rattle everything around me. My arms opened wide as tears escaped the corner of my eyes. A hand took mine, breaking my connection to the chaos. When I looked in his face I saw my reflection and smiled. I quickly returned my attention back to the storm. Renewed in my cause I breathed in the damp earthy scent of rain. I lifted my face to the sky and drew in every drop of energy that existed. In this wild reckless moment I became the storm.