Reaching Out... Touching Life... Autumn

  Painting - "It's Twilight Time" - Terri Waters

     There is no darkness quite like the darkness of the mountains. In the autumn daytime, the Smokies are alive with the brightness of reds and golds and oranges and mixtures of colors in-between. And then there is night.

     Nighttime is a beautiful time in the mountains. The skies sparkle, but not enough to reveal the colors that lay hidden until the sun rises again. My eyes and my mind cannot fall upon anyone thing, because the woods are a mass of things with no distinctive details. Only outlines that tend to blend together, as if trees and mountains and grass were all one. I hear a few night birds and some creatures of some type rustling through the leaves and bushes every now and then. But I can't see them. They have also become a part of the evening mass. 

     It is such a time as this, when the sense of sight has been cancelled, that the other senses are multiplied to take care of the void. I would have brought a flashlight with me, but I wanted no intrusion. This is my rendezvous with night in the Smokies and I must be faithful. 

     Here I am. Alone with nature. I begin to sense what Henry David Thoreau felt and what he expressed in his essay, "Solitude". He had his Walden Pond. I have the Great Smoky Mountains. 

     I have to walk slowly, carefully feeling my way with my feet as I move over the level ground covered with a few rocks and some holes spaced every so often. Then the ground slants upward and I am challenged to climb the mountain as if blindfolded.

     As the climb becomes steeper, I bend forward, my head and shoulders far in front of my feet and much closer to the ground than they should be. The night is cool, but I began to break into a sweat. I unbutton my woolen plaid and invite the once-nippy breeze to brush against me. Getting in too much of a hurry now to reach the top, I step into a small branch and it causes my eye to smart and tears to rush to give me some comfort.

     Finally, I make it. The summit is conquered. I take a deep breath and survey my domain. King of the mountain, but no one knows but me. Sometimes, however, it is more fun to be alone. More rewarding. More natural.

     After I catch my breath and realize my knees have the characteristics of jello, my spirit slips from that of a conqueror to that of someone in church. All of a sudden, the stars and the earth and the night and God and I are one in worship.

     I know there is a city somewhere down below. I know there are people driving through the streets in bright, shiny cars with brilliant lights that shoo the darkness away. They appear to be having a good time, eating their candied apples, listening to their loud radios and waving to friends and strangers and to others who will pay attention to them. 

     But they can't see the darkness and their lights obscure the stars. They are missing the worship service tonight, but maybe they will be able to participate some other time.

~ Carl Mays