It took me well into my early twenties before I appreciated the mastery of Jane Austen. It took me three times of reading Pride and Prejudice before I actually liked it. Yes, I re-read books I don't like. I was bored, and there weren't any other books around to read. I like to read that much. I distinctly remember a line from Pride and Prejudice that resonated with me more than any other line from any other book.
"What are men to rocks and mountains?" Elizabeth Bennett asked as she was on vacation with her aunt and uncle.
Indeed, I have thought the same thing for many many years.
As a child, I roamed the undeveloped horse fields around my house, building forts and splashing in the irrigation canals. As a teen, I spent nearly every weekend hiking around the mountains near my house, letting the uncultivated beauty shape and grow my heart and soul. Nature, specifically mountains are my balm when there is anything that ails me.
The thing is, I live less than five minutes away, but Jeffrey didn't want me going about in this heat. I have been getting heat exhaustion fairly quickly lately, and he didn't want me to risk it. So I have stayed on the valley floor, and ignored the tugging of my soul.
The mountains and I share a soul. We belong together. I am always happiest when I am up surrounded by the simple complexity of nature. But any nature wont do. For that complete cleansing, it has to be the mountains. The rugged beauty of it all just takes my breath away and fills me with a panacea to cure all my ails.
As I drove and longed for the mountains, I was comforted by a brilliant summer drizzle. Those are the best kind, in my opinion. The ones with lots of lightening and thunder and hammering rain. I got home, and pushed my mountain regrets from my mind as I got the kids ready for bed.
Yesterday morning, the melancholy was too great. I knew I needed to get myself up into the mountains, regardless the cost. It is never as hot in the tops of the mountains as it is in the valley, so I loaded up Faye's back pack with treats, filled the water bottles, and we were off.
As soon as my van turned onto the canyon road, I felt lighter. It felt right. I rolled down my window, turned the AC off, and made my children take deep cleansing breaths.
"Mom, I don't want to. I think you are crazy." Keith said in his usual defiant tone.
Faye obediently took deep breaths and smiled. "It smells so pretty." she announced.
We let some mellow music drone in the background as I pointed out all the things I love about the drive.
"Look how shallow the water is," "Look at that pretty rock," "Can you see how tall those trees are?" "Have you ever seen a prettier sky?"
They looked out the window disinterestedly, but I, like someone dying of thirst, drank it all in.
After a thirty minute drive where I wished I was the passenger gazing out the window and not the driver concentrating on the road, we arrived.
Oh the beauty of Silver Lake.
Crowds seemed to have thronged there with the same desire to escape the heat that we had. Happily, we had packed umbrellas as the sky was that gorgeous dizzy gray it sometimes is before a brief downpour. We walked down the boardwalk, marveling at how small the lake had become. The boardwalk was lined with tall grasses, wildflowers, and squirrels. As we walked, it began to rain, and the less prepared began to scurry from the boardwalk like roaches scamper out of the light. It made me laugh, and so happy that it was clearing out. I like my solitude when I am up in the mountain tops. I like the quiet, or the chatter of my kids matching the chatter of the birds and crickets.
It was the best way to spend an afternoon, I do declare.
Only problem is it has whet my appetite for more.
Keith asked if we could go back soon, and I promised him we would when the leaves change, because there is nothing like being near the canvas of God when autumn has reached its peak.