Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir
I know why Backwoods Betty left the city. Though this, I did not always know. Nor was I certain it was a good idea—Betty being a cityfied professional for nearly three decades, held captive by the city's assiduous urban hum, it's vibrant sheen, culture and diversity—I was worried, couldn't imagine how she'd negotiate the solitude of the mountains and northern boreal forests, the frigid and often dangerous winters, the slowed pace. As a second home, sure, but on a permanent basis?
But North of Franconia Notch is hardly an isolated, unfriendly or stagnant plateau. It is a series of verdant mezzanines, palisades of evergreens and brush, pillars of granite and peppery stones that line its natural corridors and wrap around its lush and coniferous woodlands. There, in the thick of this mountainous weald, it is to breathe crisp air and listen.
It is to be spoken to by a voice rooted deep in earth's core, an oracle.
It is to be in the company of good friends. Like the croaking bullfrogs at dusk.
Sunday morning we hiked Falling Waters. Here, along this rugged, root covered, stone lined trail, worn by the tread of many a trekking shoe, insulated from flurry and fuss, from what can sometimes feel like the madness of the world, we heard water falling: drips of clear liquid dropping from one green leaf to another, like Mother Nature's tears running down a stairway of foliage. Then, a trickle of water from behind slate and golden rocks, around fallen birch limbs, and quietly through the brook.
It is a conversation, accompanied by a lullaby.
Without television, radio or internet for the entire weekend, on Sunday we were still unaware of the events that had unfolded in Oslo, and Utoya. We climbed, quite blissfully, higher up the steep and sometimes muddy trail, and witnessed a different kind of unfolding: cool water plunging down granite steps. Pulling ourselves skyward, past sharp twists in the terrain, through shallow pools of water and up stone risers set by the AMC, the waterway widened and gushed from enormous slabs of stone into cascades of trilling aqua.
It is a melody.
We rested at the top of one of the largest falls, and absorbed the deep pigment of nature, whistling birds, barreling water, buzzing insects, pine and dirt and rock, the organic lyrics of the mossy forest.
It is a symphony.
Not knowing anything but the rich sounds of tall pines, clods of mud under foot, wild geese, bullfrogs, or fanning falls can be bliss. (It was Walt Whitman who said: You must not know too much or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and watercraft; a certain free-margin, and even vagueness - ignorance, credulity - helps your enjoyment of these things.)
But the north country is not about not knowing. The north country is about paying attention to knowing. It is a meditation on knowing the true identity of the world, and all its creatures, of self and of what brings oneself joy and peace.
It is a meditation on quality of life.
It is a libretto of life. And death. And renewal.
And it is a meditation on everything we don't know, may never know, may never understand.
We went up and down the trail unfettered by the knowledge of the chaos and killing in Norway. The whole weekend, unfettered. It's hard to believe. Some things we don't want to know. Some things we most certainly will never understand.
At the base of the trail, turning on the radio, it was a requiem.
Falling waters, slipping tears. Sounds that resonate.
I didn't want to leave.
Thomas Dybdahl is a Norwegian Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter. His music has all the serenity and lushness of a stream rippling through mountain gorges. His voice: undulating waves of light and sound. His lyrics: as colorful and emotional as the deep northern forest, flooded with the steamy warmth of southern everglades. The sound: rooted in pop, its branches having a multidirectional spread to folk, rock, country, jazz—it is as melodic, scenic and pristine as the glacial terrain and falling waters that seduce us, that speak to us.
His new album, Songs, was released this month in the U.S.
This week, Dybdahl has been touring the States, dedicating his shows to his Norwegian countrymen. Next week, he returns to Trondheim and the tears of Norway. There, he's sure to bring much comfort.
(In the background, Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss speaks of quality of life by asking, roughly, how it may be defined and how it may remain high or become heightened? He reminds us that quality of life has nothing to do with what one has, but how one feels about oneself, what brings one joy. Næss is well known for his work on the principles of deep ecology. )
I worry no longer. Betty knows exactly what she's doing, and she's doing it well. There, in the backwoods of New Hampshire, is much joy and peace. I wish it were the same the world wide.
"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
~ John Muir
Wonderful words and music, poetic, wise and sad. I like that you didn't know for a while, as I. (I don't have a TV)ReplyDelete
What a truly poetic post! And lovely pictures. I felt like I was there. Thanks Jayne, for a little virtual vacation!ReplyDelete
i think i know how you must have felt in not wanting to leave - i feel that way when i'm surrounded by the grandeur of nature - most recently in the mountains of north carolina as i walked the land of my direct ancestors for the first time - under the blanket of thick trees and in the rushing waters of mountain streams and waterfalls - a beautiful peace - especially wishing peace for us all -ReplyDelete
Lovely. I loved your symphony. And such great photos, too.ReplyDelete
It is an escape, to live out and away from the craziness; disconnected. Sometimes I do think I live in a bubble. But it's what keeps my own soul intact and my mind at peace so that I might be helpful to others.ReplyDelete
I do not miss the city at all. I miss certain people but not the city.ReplyDelete
"It is a conversation, accompanied by a lullaby"...that's *exactly* how it feels in a place like that.ReplyDelete
and it's a heartachey feeling to have that wish for joy and peace throughout the world, it being so far from realization...but i think it's good to appreciate the little spots of that peace and do what we can to spread a little bit of joy. beautiful post. :)
i can picture scully and mulder walking up those steps and being confronted by some unknown creature.ReplyDelete
mulder could quickly figure out if aliens are responsible for the debt ceiling adventure.
Shopgirl- It is a relief, sometimes, not to know. I can't imagine not knowing for too long, though.ReplyDelete
Lydia- Thank you. I'm still feeling like I need more vacation...!ReplyDelete
Gypsywoman- How wonderful that mus have been! It is peace, isn't it? Wish we could spread the thickness of that peace, too. ;)ReplyDelete
Carol- Glad you enjoyed it. :)ReplyDelete
Leonora- To be able to deliberately live in an environment that nurtures the soul and brings peace of mind is beautiful thing. You are very fortunate. I'm still searching for that place. Is it the landscape, or is it the mind? Or perhaps, it's the harmony of both.ReplyDelete
Ellen- You remind me of my sister. Who, by the way, once in while needs to venture back to the city. Any city.ReplyDelete
Id- "Heartachey" all right. You're right, if we can create our own peaceful space, our own peace of mind, with that, we also create the trickle effect. At least that's what I hope. ;)ReplyDelete
BP- Oh yes, we've plenty of aliens in our government. A case for the X-Files, indeed. ;)ReplyDelete
Beyond melody, symphony and meditation, it is balm. Pure, simple. We are restored by nature. What a pleasant morning walk along the trail, the air felt cooler, the city sounds faded. Thank you for taking us along. How wise that she knew what would nourish her best.ReplyDelete
Just the balm we need today. My internal temperature dropped a good couple of degrees by the time I reached the end of this lovely piece. Distract me! Distract me more!ReplyDelete
Oh Jayne, thank you for this meditative, musical journey. As Marylinn says - here is balm. Rich pigment, deep earthy rhythms. . . it's all about right relationship, isn't it? We need to press our cheek to Nature's chest as often as we are able; listening - hearing - her heartbeat goes some distance towards redressing the balance of things.ReplyDelete
Such a beautiful post. And thank you, too, for the introduction to Thomas Dybdahl and his music. Oh, and the philosopher, too. Arne Naess (can't get the a & e to join up!). xo
it sounds very Walden's Pond Jayne - you have the best wildernesss up there.ReplyDelete
It looks (and sounds) like you guys are having a blast. Being stuck here in the concrete jungle, there's nothing I miss more about Colorado than being able to go for a hike any time I pleased. As always, thanks for sharing the new music :)ReplyDelete
Marylinn- A balm for the soul, yes. I can understand how some people would never want to come out of the mountains. I has so much to offer the spirit--quiet respite, challenging climbing, and so much more.ReplyDelete
I'm so very happy for my sister. :)
Nance- Lovely to have you along with me on this invigorating hike through the woods. :-)ReplyDelete
Claire- Absolutely. The right relationships and balancing the same. I love that image of pressing our cheeks to natures chest. It's exactly how I feel when I get outdoors. Especially in the mountains and woods, pressing cheeks, grabbing limbs, rubbing stones between the hands, and carefully picking our way across a chilly river, jumping from rock to rock.ReplyDelete
So glad you enjoyed Dybdahl.
Naess was a remarkable man.
David- When we were children, my parents often took my brothers, sisters and I to Walden Pond. My father would read from one of Henry David Thoreau's works and we'd hike around the pond. Those were pretty special trips.ReplyDelete
You remind me that I should be doing the same with my children! ;)
Beer- I've skied a few mountains and Colorado, and it is just beautiful out there. Must be wonderful in the summer, too. Get out of the jungle and enjoy those gorgeous natural Colorado vistas!ReplyDelete
My step-son grew up in Oregon but moved to Southern California, Orange County (where there are NO orange groves). He loves it there.ReplyDelete
I asked him one time if he ever missed the Pacific Northwest? "I hardly ever go outdoors," he responded. Role-playing games and he and his new bride hanging with his friends is enough for him. But I wonder for how long? He was born while his mother lived in San Diego - she couldn't wait to return back to Oregon. I wonder when the call of the wild will get to him as well?
Thank you for consistently purveying sanity here, touched as always with grace notes.ReplyDelete
Franconia Notch: lovely. I camped near Mt. Washington for a night or two back in the 1970s, and can attest to the area's siren call. I'm not at all surprised that Backwoods Betty heard it, and am thrilled (as I usually am) to learn of someone who does something so overturning of expectations.
Paying attention to knowing is one of my favorite values, too. (The WIP has a recurring theme -- a song which none of the main characters know they know, but which keeps haunting both their dreams and their waking lives.) I'm so glad and a little jealous to know (and promise to pay attention to knowing :)) that you found escape in NH from events you didn't even know you needed to escape from.
Nice John Muir quote. Looks like some beautiful scenery too:)ReplyDelete
Nice pictures, reminds me of our great hikes in the Rocky Mountains Nat. Park when we lived in Colorado.ReplyDelete
An, yes, Thomas Dybdahl is playing here tomorrow. My wife is going to the concert. Maybe I'll join her, but I'm mostly a metal head >:)
Cold As Heaven
It sounds absolutely beautiful. I was born a city girl (Montreal) but I could die a country girl.ReplyDelete
Now THAT is an escape. Beautiful. And strange, how the world goes on, even without our attention...ReplyDelete
Robert- I can't imagine "hardly ever" going outdoors as being sustainable. My guess is that the call will come--once he get the Orange out of him. ;)ReplyDelete
JES- Yes, I agree--very overturning, and I'm quite in awe of my sharp and beautiful sister.ReplyDelete
Now about that recurring theme... I'm so hoping I see that in print soon. song which keeps haunting dreams and waking lives is something, I believe, many of us could relate to (even if we aren't consciously aware of being haunted by such). I am ever so more intrigued!
Escape to NH is a blessing. But sooner or later, you've got to come out of the mountains (though I was happy for the timing). Darn it. ;)
Mark- Quite beautiful. And wouldn't I love to follow Muir's path! Guess I'll have to settle for the quotes--and maybe just a portion of the path?ReplyDelete
Cold- I hope you're doing well in Norway. I'd love to hear about that concert. Did you go?ReplyDelete
Hilary- I feel the same way! :-)ReplyDelete
Kimberly- So true. But we're always giving it some form of attention, aren't we? Though I think it doesn't get quite enough attention. At least not the right kind. ;)ReplyDelete
Thank you for your support. And for stopping by! It appears you have a lovely blog here.ReplyDelete
Jaye- And thank you, too! :-)ReplyDelete
Thanks for bringing this post to my attention. I finally got around to reading it last night. I knew you had enjoyed that weekend as much as I did, but I guess I didn't realize just how profoundly you'd been moved by our hike up Falling Waters. This post is beautiful. Sheer poetry. I was reduced — you won't be surprised to hear this — to tears just reading it. You really captured the essence of this very special place. What began with "a conversation, accompanied by a lullaby," you finished with a love song. Thank you for that.