Up On the Mountain April 3, 2013

I steal time up on the mountain, and these are my favorite days.  I love my life here in Black Mountain, and there was the day I stole into the Cupcake shop, where I was greeted, with a "Hey Cupcake," and I love walking into the Ace hardware in Swannanoa, and being told "We match," because I'm wearing my camo overalls, but it's the quiet days, when I'm up here alone on the mountain, that are my favorites.  I love the blend of my life, that I can teach jazz poetry, or poetry workshops, or write for a fabulous local magazine.  I scramble, because I have become a "freelancer," but nothing can detract from what it's like to walk up the logging trail, checking on the shallow trenches I maintain for water run-off and following the border of our property uphill.  It is so steep that I wear gloves and carry a walking stick, and now that's the bears are up and about, carry my bear spray.  I'm pushing through the newly greening brambles, and the cushion of leaves that look like old snakeskins, and the purple whips of another variety of bramble.  I go all the way to the top of the ridge.  I can see Grovestone quarry's terraces in the distance, the loops the trucks drive carved into the ridge across the river.  I have a 180 degree view, with the slopes of blue mountains all around me.  I can walk the tail of the ridge downhill, and cut across and find our roof, coppery below me, a little homestead below me.  It looks from the height of the cutbank or cliff in the "back yard," behind the cabin, very civilized, with raised beds and a stone pathway, and a pebble pathway through the back yard.  But it has taken enormous work to "tame" the water run off, which is violent, and has caused a landslide, as well as the tumbling down of rock and sandy clay and "rotten rock" that breaks from the cliff face. It's been cut away from the mountain when the cabin was built, which is why it erodes.  It's man-made and therefore perishable, not solid after centuries of erosion.  But we're putting juniper, grass seed, and jute erosion matting onto the face of it.  I never imagined what living here would be like, but it's an adventure.  When I start climbing that steep uphill, I just put one foot in front of the other.  Who needs to join a gym, when I have to work to maintain this place, digging out the trenches where the rain water flows, or gardening.  But all these last months, all winter, there has been so much rain that the stream is singing all the time, water moving like bells over the low places it's found to travel.  It's alive, the whole mountain, the springs of water coming up from the ground with the rainwater.  You can feel the energy of the trees pour into you.  This is peace.  The natural world slides under us, making all of the "civilized" world ridiculous, space-age and subject to the destruction we humans always cause.


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