I am home again after a 700-mile, three day journey to tell stories at three schools and one library--and to visit my oldest son and his family.
Driving home today was like beauty on speed. The trees with their changing leaves are stunning, and I stopped often just to stare at the mountains in awe--there are no words that I know to describe the beauty of autumn in the Allegheny mountains and foothills.
The other thing that struck once again with full force was the simplicity and yet the common-ness of life in the mountains. Here was a woman picking up hickory nuts on the side of the road, wearing old work clothes and her gray hair in braids; there a man and his son walking along a trout stream, the man bent over and talking to his boy as he explained something about the fishing pole the boy carried; a man filling jugs at a roadside spring, carefully filtering the water through a homemade sieve; two little girls holding hands and singing as they sat on a swing; a man on his porch stroking a big orange cat in his lap; smoke curling from chimneys of small, modest houses that were buttressed by huge woodpiles of split firewood; apples hanging heavy on trees even this late in the fall; barns full of hay and a cow nuzzling a young calf that lay on the ground...
So many vignettes like these scattered along my path like pearls that glowed with the truth of what it is to live in the hills--hard work, family, simple needs met by simple means. What an important reminder in these times that life can indeed be as basic as this: food, shelter, heat, water. What more do we really need, except art?
And the art is there, in simple, simply living.