Cool air fills the forest as a light mist settles across the land. Small streams form pushing the fallen leaves out of way. The rain settles out and the sun breaks through the clouds for a little while. It’s a great opportunity to get out on a pathway and leave the artificial life of T.V., internet and radio behind. The fragrance of the moss gently wafts from the wet ground and the birds fill the forest with happy chirps. On this trip they’re the only companions. In 9 weeks give or take the forest will slowly begin to open sleepy eyes. I’ve already seen a few green leaves peeking through the leaf litter like a small child opening one eye and then playing possum. They’ll pop up for a little while and then go back to sleep in the deep cold of February. One of them looks like Solomon’s Seal but I haven’t really checked it close yet. Last year’s fern fronds are still green and sprawled across their domain. Some of them are perched on top of rotten stumps and others cling to the top of large stones along with the moss. The rain begins to drizzle again but the mountain offers plenty of cover in the form of rocky ledges with shallow caves at the base. You can sit under them and just listen to rain. The tranquility of the solitude brings peace and the peace is fulfilling.
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The sound of the rippling water lapping at the shore combined with song birds brings a sense of peaceful joy. I approached the wading willows as if greeting old friends. The willows seem to dance ever so slightly in the river’s currents and it feels as though they are listening to the songs of nature themselves. In the distance the osprey soars across the sky looking for a pearch stunned by falls. Dragonflies skim the waters surface as they hunt occasionally leaving little ripples of their own and the evening sun reflected in the tiny waves produces a light show that only God himself could engineer. The breeze coming off of Kanawha Falls is cool and gently stirs in and around the small park. I take a deep breath and release the stress of the workday into the river so that it will carry away the cares of the outside world. I thank God for choosing to place this natural sanctuary here for me. I take a few minutes to tell him about my day and seek his wisdom. But most importantly I listen. I listen to voice of peace spoken by God and echoed by the moving water. The conversation isn’t long and with my peace renewed I climb back up into the big blue truck and head for home.
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I sat by by the Kanawha River the other morning. I rolled down the window and was enjoying the morning sun as danced on the water. It’s my time to enjoy life and absorb a few minutes of peaceful contemplation. The ducks are swimming around playing follow the leader as a sleepy butterfly flexes it’s wings. A long lonely cry breaks the silence as the mourning dove announced its presence. I looked around and saw only one. It’s mate was nowhere to be found. Again it cries out with a heart-wrenching tone. Soon it hobbled into view cocking it’s head from side to side and straining to listen for a reply. The other life on the river becomes quiet and still as the next call echoes. I began to feel the desperation of the lonely mourning dove searching for its true love. Then I heard it. The reply came from the other shore. The little dove perks up as does a vertical take-off as it flies towards true love. Faith never gives up. Faith calls out expecting the answer regardless of the current circumstances. And when the answer comes, faith responds without hesitation.
I think I could take a whole day and just sit by the river. I have learned a little something about myself on those rare occasions when I can actually go fishing. I do it just as an excuse to be in nature. I always try to two poles. One that I just set up and leave in case something bites and another with a lure that I can just cast out and retrieve. I don’t really care if even catch anything. I just enjoy being near the water. The building you see here is the hydroelectric power plant. Like the turbine I’m recharged by the flow of water. It doesn’t matter if it’s spending the day out in nature or just sitting in your favorite chair and thinking or whatever your muse is don’t forget to take time out your busy schedule and recharge.
Leaving behind the chaotic façade which most think of as the real world I continue down the silent road. Small things dart around inside the tall grass looking for the lost echo of birds. A world without bird’s songs is a creation without a voice. The silver sky weeps as muted wind howls in vain. The grasses and trees began to sway gently as if dancing in time with a forgotten memory. What was the tune? It’s on the tip of my useless tongue. I have to find the answer. As I search in despair for the solution I see movement out of corner of my eye. The dark shape floats above my head and I recognize the outline of a raven. The black feathers are almost iridescent and it’s unnaturally large. In its beak it carries a scroll. It would shriek if shrieking existed. The scroll lands at my feet. I unroll the parchment and the raven circles awaiting my reaction to the mystery I hold. Scratched on the inside of the parchment were ancient symbols that spoke of lost magic and words “The road ends in silence but begins in music. Let one who knows the secrets be the voice.” I nodded to raven and he dipped a wing in reply. I would undertake his quest to where the road begins.
… to be continued.
I have often said that my highway to heaven is a dirt road. Dirt roads take us to places unknown and seldom seen. We enter another world where a good ATV ( commonly referred to as a 4 wheeler in my part of Appalachia) or your own feet are the best travel options. When I was a kid we would head out on an old dirt road like the one in the feature image ever chance we got. These roads often contain mud holes that more akin to ponds than potholes. In the spring and summer they’re normally full of tadpoles and newts. My brother and I would escape the heat of the mobile home by finding one of the largest holes we could back under the canopy of the trees to play in. We’d come home covered in mud after riding our bicycles through the mud as hard as we could. We were pretending to be motocross racers. We’d slam the brakes in mud and throw it out as hard as we could. Whoever could make the biggest splash was the winner. We’d play Evil Knievel too. (For those too young to remember he was the most famous stuntman of my youth. You can read about him here). My poor mother would have two boys who looked like mud monsters by the time we were done.
Later in life I would walk these dirt roads at a slower pace while stalking deer or just out exploring. Walking a road like the one in the feature image is kinda like being on a treadmill with people throwing mud, rocks and tree stumps at your feet. The mud settles in low spots and it’s a perfect way for a beginner to find animal tracks and learn about tracking.
Today necessity keeps me on the nice pavement. I walk through a world of concrete and asphalt. But I still long for an abandoned dirt road with a huge mud hole and a good off road bicycle.