Monday, January 27, 2014

The New Year

On the first day of 2014, Brian and I hiked Mt. Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. 

Although it is not comparable to the bare and jagged western peaks in the Rockies, or even the rugged peaks of the northern Appalachians, Mt. Rogers allows gorgeous views of a living landscape in the Blue Ridge. The winter sunshine welcomed us, so we were warm even in the wind, and as we hiked we found ourselves breathless not from the strain but from the sights and sounds of the mountain. Wild ponies greeted us (really, they just wanted our lunches), and clouds moved across the blue sky.
The branches of trees and bushes, coated in ice, sparkled in the light, and, when touched by the wind, clinked together, filling the woods and fields with sounds like tinkling bells. It echoed poetry: 

I feel them, hear them even now,
The syllables of aspen leaves,
The words of waterfalls,
The stanzas of stones.
They make the whole world vibrate. (Smith, 2003, p. 578)

I felt connected, whole, and engaged in the vibrant and vibrating world around me. 

Filled with awe and wonder, I turned to Brian and said, “I want to feel like this every day.” I was working hard, climbing over rocks and balancing on stony, icy trails. I needed constant awareness to maintain my footing, and still, I was able to look around, amazed at every turn of the trail or hilltop as the valleys and views opened up around us. Every day, I meant it. I want to cultivate that sense of intentional amazement, a level of continuous effort that also affords a view of wonderment, of being in the moment, of moving forward toward a summit, filled with gratitude and with no better place to be. I am so grateful to have started the year in this way, and I hope, going onward, I can keep that momentum.

Smith, B. (2003). The language of poetry. In S. Ballard & P. Hudson (Eds.), Listen here: women writing in Appalachia (p. 578). Lexington, KY: U of Kentucky P.
All photos courtesy of B. Ricketts. 


Brooke King said...

I love the wording you used, "intentional amazement." As teachers it is easy to come across a surprise victory amazed. But what about our "failures" or those days when we just want to pull our hair out or crawl under our desks? If we are intentional and truly seeking that amazement, while maintaining our footing along the way, everyday would be a victory in its own way. Thank you for sharing this insight!

Jenny Martin said...

These pictures are almost as beautiful as the written word! I can hear the sound of the tinkling ice.