Friday, December 11, 2009

The Mountains

The mountains are calling and I must go.” (John Muir)

Lucian Blaga will tell you: our life and frame of mind are forever molded by the landscape in which we grew up and in which we formed as individuals. Although I grew up in various landscapes, I think the one that most marked me was the mountainous one, in the Northern part of Romania called Bucovina.

That land of half reality and half myth, that land of mixture between sky and earth, heaven and hell will forever be imprinted in my brain and mostly in my heart. And that landscape also made sure that any mountain, from any continent, from under any other sky, will forever speak to me in languages only decipherable by me alone.

One of my life long friends who grew up right alongside with me in Bucovina told me once: “A., you and I love the mountains because we know that mountains are not to be looked at with our eyes. They are not just pretty views. They are to be listened to and felt. With and through our hearts. And we do that.”

As long as I’ll live and have a functioning brain, I shall never forget that! Thank you, M. I am so blessed for my friends!

My aunt will tell you also that she has never seen me so happy, so transformed, and so quiet than when I look at a mountain. They are my home. They are my altar.

There is something magical that happens when I find myself in the middle of mountains. It’s the ultimate coming home. Like I have said before: nothing brings me closer to God than a church and mountains. Nothing resembles a church to me like the mountains. And their woods.

Because I grew up over several seasons inside of them, I know every noise and every smell they treasure. I know the smell of the fresh soil in the spring, when ice breaks from the peaks and the rivers swell. I know the sounds of the swelling rivers, the eager, chatty spring birds, and the ominous, solemn owls in the nights. I know what a star flooded summer sky looks like, and what it feels like to feel like you’re drowning into galaxies when you lay on your back on a pile of hay and absorb the millions of constellations in your retinas.

I know the smell of cow manure in the spring, and the one of freshly dry hay in the late summer. I know the sweetness of the wild strawberries and raspberries, the tartness of fresh blueberries and the cranberries too. I know raspberries always come full of white warms that you have to shake off before you eat the fruit.

Have you ever had milk freshly milked? When you see specs of fat floating on the surface and it smells like cow skin?! It's liquid fat. Have you ever smelled a freshly "delivered" lamb or calf? They smell like life: bold and bloody. Ready to fight and determined make it. So visceral, it makes your skin crawl and imbues you with gusto of living.

I know the pain and the joy of picking mushrooms all day, through peaks and ravines, slipping and sliding, and the reward of cooking them for dinner and tasting the pine needles in them. And the fresh air.

And God, I know the air! The freshness and crispness. It’s cold but only just barely! It’s what my grandma used to call “ a handful of health “. If health would be quantifiable it would be measured in mountain air breaths.

And their people. Not of many words but of so many wisdoms! There is nothing they don't know. Their eyes are deep pools of knowledge, and of life. They have seen and listened and they know. Their arms have birthed those lambs and have cut the hay every summer. They have built houses, have cradled babied and made love. They are the definition of self-sufficiency. They borrow the permanence from the landscape and the freshness and delicateness from it too. They know how to listen and only to echo when the wind is right.

Nothing in the world soothes me and gives me better perspective on life, pain, health, joy, happiness, the now, like a wide open mountain vista. The mountains – tall, quiet and relentless – and the valley, small and full of life, and dramas, and stories, and secrets. The contrast and the similarities between the two. I have always felt like there is no rock that’s random in the mountains – any mountains: they each tell a story for anyone who has their heart open to listen.

I have always felt like time always stands still there. It will be there, 10 years from now, waiting for you, forever patient. Why would they rush? To what? For what?!

It’s been my life long dream to have a life of my own amongst them. I hope I will. Soon.

Here’s a peek at my own latest mountains. And the ones that will be my home. Soon.

On the way to Midway, UT from Sundace: the most perfect marriage: mountains, calm lakes and skies. Just un touched harmony. Click on the picture for the whole album.

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