By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
We drove along the winding roads among the mountains of eastern Kentucky, heading for the Cumberland Gap and, then, for home. The air was cool under a gray sky that threatened snow and promised rain. Wind brushed steep hillsides that stood in silent witness to the weather as it rolled through on a schedule of its own, a reminder of the passing nature of man. What we see here is but an instant, some more noteworthy than most.
In the seasons’ transit from cold back to hot, temperatures and patterns pass through the same points it seems, the only difference being what lies ahead. Fall chills seem colder because we know colder lies ahead, but snapshots of passing instants look and feel the same as winter gives way to spring. A cool, wet morning last week reminded me of good friends and good memories from a similar time. Mental departures like these are good for the soul.
Life pulls in many directions at once, demands for our minds’ top billing always a clamor. So often the enforced quiet times, inconveniences to the schedule, are welcome relief. What comes to mind then, at least for me, is always a cornucopia of yesterdays bad and good, but mostly good. Imminent days of high sunshine ahead can help avoid the mind’s dark places.
Weather in the mountains has always been part of the amazement the high places hold for me. Rain turns to sunshine in an instant, clouds crest a rise and drop snow with a howl that comes from the depths of time. A front pushing through a high meadow drives pockets of ground-warmed air before it, alternating scents of warm sage and pinion pine with stark, empty wind, cold from the stratosphere’s kiss. It’s easy to feel closer to God up high, if only for the greater distance from the rest of man.
So much of our experience happens in a rush, we gather what we can and hit the high points at the time, but in our life’s quiet places we can return and reexamine them in detail, remember the smell of sunshine on scrub grass and feel what the weather was.
Behind the wheel or in a waiting room, on an airplane or anywhere our conscience gives us permission to think beyond the immediate, our minds go to pressing worries or to favorite memories.
It’s good to keep a handy stock of the latter, something a continuing relationship with the outdoors is sure to supply.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.