Saturday, October 17, 2009
It's That Time of Year Again...
It's October...the one time of the year when I get homesick. I miss the chill in the morning air, the way you can see your breath and the cloud of steam rising from your cup of coffee as you step out onto the back porch. I miss the crunch of leaves beneath my feet and the palette of color that sweeps the hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania. I miss the smells of autumn--rich soil damp with dew, woodsmoke from a distant fire. The warning scent of the winter that is to come.
If home is truly where the heart is, then my October home is in those hills some eight hundred miles away where the Youghoigheny River winds through the Laurel Mountains, spilling over rocks worn smooth by time. I close my eyes and envision my feet carefully settling on rocks and stepping over tree roots as I climb the Buffalo Nut trail that rises above the river in Ohiopyle State Park. I feel the burn in my calves and the sting of cold air in my nostrils and throat.
Sunlight bathes the hillsides splashed with varying shades of red, orange and yellow. The river gurgles along until it reaches the waterfall where it roars and splashes, sending a mist to anoint anyone standing at the river's edge. And I stop and close my eyes to accept this baptism of nature. Looking down from a rock ledge into the roiling water, I feel my smallness, my vulnerability. One misstep, one slip...
The sun kisses my upturned face and sends warmth through to my toes. Leaves rustle, some falling, like unparachuted skydivers, to land in the water where they create a floating tapestry. Near the base of the waterfall, a kayaker paddles against the current, then turns his kayak to let the rushing waters drive him while he skillfully navigates the rapids.
I am consumed by this moment, by the contrasting chill in the air and the warmth of the sun, by the silence that lies beneath the rushing water and the rustling leaves. It is in this silence that I once again know. I know that I am not alone. I know that I have a purpose. I know that there is someone or something greater than myself orchestrating this moment. I know who I am.
As writers or artists or musicians, we have to dig deep and give ourselves over to that which is more than we sometimes feel we can bear. We do it for the sake of our art. We do it for love. Inspiration is all around, if we but shift our eyes from the computer screen and our minds from the words we labor to link together--and we just look and listen.
Take an hour. Sit outside in the stillness. Breathe in the smells, hear the sounds and the silences, listen to the earth around you preparing for the little dyings that will, in another season, produce new life. Let yourself be in the moment.