My paternal family roots are out in a county in the Northern Appalachian Mountains. The Chamber of Commerce there likes to call it the "Land of Enchanted Mountains," as part of their PR pitch for folks to frequent ski resorts and other ventures to bring in the tourists. In younger years, I would never have thought to use the word "enchanted," however I guess those mountains and valleys have always seemed that way to me.
Turning the pages of our families history, a Revolutionary War veteran walked out west from Vermont and built a one room cabin, with a sleeping loft, alongside a creek in a small green valley of those mountains.
In the generations that followed, that cabin was expanded on two different occasions, into the home where I used to live for periods of time with my grandparents.
Grandfather was born in that house and always felt at home in the mountain woods and along fast following creeks in the surrounding valleys. He had a special attachment to a small mountain brook and the woods it travels through, tumbling over countless waterfalls, like small and at times larger steps down the mountain to the valley and creek that eventually flows past the old home place.
At an early age, grandfather would take me along into those woods, imparting how to walk quietly, how to keep track of where you were and taught me to appreciate the natural world around us. There were farms and a few (then gravel) roads not too far away. However, all that seemed so distant back in those mountain woods. The sights and sounds always drew me in and sensing the calm and peaceful feelings my grandfather had there, it became that way for me as well.
In later years, during difficult times, in a place involved in conflict that included some horrific moments that still revisit all these many years later, I used to find myself attempting to travel back through time, back to the mountains and to the one mountain brook that always was special to me, seeking the comfort and peace I had known there while taking those moments to escape some of what I was experiencing.
To this day, any time I can return there, it remains special. To walk through those woods again to hear and see that brook along which I followed my grandfathers well placed steps so long ago ... hard to express the feelings that come back to me in that place.
Yesterday, was one of those wonderful days to go back for a visit. This one made even more special in that my son was with me. We didn't have the time to go too deep into the woods, but we did visit places that will always connect me to that place and to a grandfather who played such a wonderful role in my upbringing.
The season has started to turn. The dense green canopy is thinning and allowing more sunlight. The colors are muted a bit, as they change and more leaves start to fall.
Small towns, not too far away have changed so much. Most of the gravel roads are paved and more vehicles travel them today, many in a hurry to get someplace. However, back in those mountain woods and along a certain mountain brook, everything seems timeless and peaceful and as it should be to this old traveler, who spent many decades traveling far and wide and often enjoying the discovery of interesting places and people far from home.
That said, in some meaningful ways, those mountain woods of my youth and of the younger years of generations before me, seem more like home than just about anyplace else in the world.
Hope you have someplace that feels like that to you and that you get to visit there often and perhaps get to share it with a loved one, as I did yesterday. Be well and enjoy your own special moments this weekend and in days ahead.