Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Right under your nose

It’s interesting how easy it is to not really see the things around you.
I spent a weekend with friends in the countryside last February, and after driving past the same sign for a waterfall four or five times, I said, hey, what’s the deal with the waterfall - should we take a look? And my friend J had never been there. My friend W, who’d lived around there for ages, knew it, thought it was nothing special, and just never went there. So they never went there together. Why should you, just to be disappointed that the local ‘sight’ is some sad dribble over a few rocks?
But I’m the kind who has to see how lame something is so I can write a blog post saying - WOW, that thing there is so overrated! So naturally we had to stop and see it. And it was a nice little stop. Nothing to drive a hundred miles out of the way for, unless you’re into driving a hundred miles for no particular reason (which I am...), but a nice little stop. I took pictures. I took pictures with my rabbit. I slipped on the ice and broke the screen on my new camera.
Our local mountain, Puy de Dome, is part of the landscape, so to speak, looming over the town every single day such that you either forget its there it’s so familiar, or you do notice and think ‘yeah, yeah; been there.’ Been there! There are always beautiful things to see, new and revisited. If I’ve seen one pine tree, have I seen them all? If I’ve seen this pine tree, should I never look at it again? Should I not appreciate it in its dark summer coat and its snowy mantle, as a sapling and mature? Go ahead, appreciate the things that are right under your nose.
So this past week I’ve been up Puy de Dome, several times. Last Saturday for blueberries, berries with J after work Wednesday, berries again this Saturday. And every time, I said to myself, damn, should have brought the camera! Alright, one more trip up there, on Sunday.
The clouds a week ago made life down in Clermont rather dreary, but up high it made for a magical landscape. My favorite berryfield is in the middle heights, and the clouds were like celestial sheep, moseying over one foothill, getting trapped in a valley, then creeping on over the next. Weather you just want to sit back and watch. So I did.
Then the next two trips up there, the sky was an unblemished blue, and there were a dozen or more parasailers out swarming in the air around the summit. They swooped around in a colorful ballet, just swirling in the sky, not having to come down until sunset. No matter how many times I’ve been up here over the years, there’s always something beautiful to see. Seen it before? So what - see it again!
On the last trip up I decided no berry-picking, just lunch and photos. I took the bus up to one of the drop-off points, hiking through some lovely woods and across high meadows. It had been a year since I was last on that particular trail, and in just a year, the meadows had changed. The edge of the woods moves. This corner was filled in with young birches and another with pine saplings, while in other spots the thickets of hazel were thinning out. In many places the trail makes a tunnel through the vegetation. Next trip, I promise, I’ll haul the tripod with me. Even digital has difficulty capturing the serene understory of these woods, with their subtle grey-browns and thick green canopy. No colorful sails in the sky, alas: too much wind.


shabby girl said...

Wow! What a beautiful place!!! I would love to be amongst all those trees! I'm so jealous, but happy for you!

Reya Mellicker said...

I love it that you have a name now, even though Science Girl was (is) a very cool handle.

You know better than I do that consciousness is all about scanning for the familiar or what you expect to see. I think we are hard wired to take things for granted after awhile. It's new information about a particular setting that could make the difference in a survival situation.

I'm glad you've been up the mountain and I LOVE the pics. The horses are so beautiful, and the tree trunk with the colorful "x's."

I've never seen your mountain so it's all fresh and beautiful for my cerebral cortex. Thank you!