Fall and winter are having their honeymoon. The old season is slowly acceding to the new. The landscape seems to settle into a quiet that will blanket it for months.
These mountains hold secrets silently. Deep history steeped in lore brings to mind the outlaw life of men of this land, such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, whose relatives still live here. As with most myths and legends your imagination can be transported into the timeless past. This is a conclave of the mystical and historical.
From brushy draws to timbered mountain tops the sound of bugling elks echo through the eastern sky. Of all the sounds that elevate one’s soul the most beautiful is silence.
Some views are made all the more resplendent because they are paid for by cold sweat even in the snow. Getting here is a pilgrimage. Mountains grace the horizon. The summit gives up an unforgettable view of untracked vastness. Here your eyes can feast on a mosaic of red, yellow, garnet and gold. These windows into the region, wild and serene, give occasion to pause and allow your mood to be governed by the views around you. This is a place of the heart.
Even the grays, as artist Guzman noted, form a couch on which all color sits. If you don’t have the grays, you can’t get the luminosity of the colors. There is a life’s lesson there.
The cold temperature gives the lungs a Cryovac-like sensation. You know nature is about to engage in a slow slumber. It is worth every effort to avoid missing a single moment of this fading beauty which can be taken with you in the encroaching colorless days. As autumn and winter struggle for mastery of each day, it is obvious winter will prevail.
My spirit experienced two contrasting emotions simultaneously. Elation and humility found occasion to be compatible. The result was lines from “America the Beautiful” flowing though my mind.
“For purple mountains majesties above the fruited plain! ...
“God shed His grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea...
“God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul with self-control, thy liberty in law! ...
“God shed His grace on thee till selfish gain no longer stain the banner of the free!”
I came to this country hunting wild game and found far more. In this remote region where antique machinery rusts and buildings decay I found treasures far greater than the gold extracted from these hills. The treasured thoughts deposited in my memory bank will pay dividends all of my life.
And then the hunt! Few things compare to the comraderie of hunters gathered in the early morning just before individually embarking on what each is certain will be a successful adventure. Hydrated and happy they sally forth often to return only with a cachet of memories —— good ones.
So inspired my soul, if not my body, will scale these heights many times.
Find your own quiet place, any place and let your spirit soar. Do it often. There is strength and stability in serenity.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church.