Monday, November 29, 2021

Looking West

 Letters from Josh

Looking West                                                                Letter 66 11/30/21

  Howdy, folks, and a happy belated Thanksgiving!  I’m jotting this from high atop Long Mountain, aka “the backyard” of my folks at their new place.  Here’s the scene and some fresh country air for you:  The sky is wintry azure to the north, but cold gray clouds provide cover right above me.  A November wind stirs the grasses and rustles a few remaining chestnut oak leaves on it’s way up the mountainside.  There’s something bracing in it - a Sunday preacher demanding of the observer as it does the pine trees it sings in: let go of anything that needs to be blown away.  And these trees do, keeping only what is absolutely necessary.  Grizzled, bent, and some would say stunted, they keep watch over the valley below as a train whistle echoes up from unseen rails.  Although the environment is harsh, perhaps the trees are the lucky ones, getting to spend their days watching the sun arc from ridge to ridge, and nights gazing into infinity.  Countless winter snows and summer storms have worn these rocks, and there’s something ruggedly wise about this quiet spot I sit, with just Brother Wind as company.  Casting my eyes to the blue distance, I look west 60 odd miles towards the hulking ranges of West Virginia.  A quiet road loops at the nearer feet of the mountain, and some part of me I can’t even describe stirs, longing to follow the endless double yellow line towards lands imagined.  Have you ever felt that way, too?  It’s hard to say exactly what it is, but it’s similar to the wish of flying.  What an excellent vista to make a heart glad on a Thanksgiving holiday!  I sure am grateful for a lot this year, and especially for these Letters and the opportunity to chat with you.  The cold makes it feel extra festive.  I hope your “turkey day” was meaningful and festive, and here’s a mountain toast to the past year.  We sure have been through a lot, and an extra toast to handling it with grace and tenacity.  Now, it’s time to lumber on down the mountain like a plaid bear (forget about grace there!), crunching the dry oak leaves, peering carefully at the steep slope to find sure footing, duck through the mountain laurel groves, slide on some more leaves, jump the stream, and head back inside to warm up.  It’s a long walk, but a delightful one.  I hope you’ve enjoyed our hike.  Until next time… - Josh