Sometimes I miss the mountains, because they gave me something to set my sights on, a reason to gaze upward and think about possibilities. When my maternal grandmother was completely fed up with everything, she would say, “I wish I was all by myself on a mountaintop so I could scream at the top of my lungs.” She had four kids and didn’t drive a car, so I imagine solitude was a rare commodity. What she really wanted was perspective, which is one thing a mountain can give you—that ability to stand above it all and scale your problems down to size. My people have always drawn their strength from the hills, as if their very bones were made of the same granite that formed Appalachia. I knew that moving to a coastal area would force me to deal with the element I am least comfortable with—water—and I am quite sure that Goddess intended this for me. I also knew that for once in my life, I was leading with my heart, which is also in the realm of water, emotions, dreams, and the unknown. I remember looking at Savannah on the map and seeing all the rivers and inlets around the city…and the mighty Atlantic Ocean to the east. Water. Everywhere. There was simply no avoiding it this time.
Down here in the low country, it’s a flat marshland as far as the eye can see, but the tradeoff is the expansiveness of the sky. When I am sitting out on the dock, I can literally see the curvature of the earth, and I always have an unobstructed view of the moon. I fell in love with the wide-openness of it all. I started paying attention to whether the tide was in or out, and I began to appreciate the changeability of water…how it shapes the landscape and how one day is completely different from the next. Some days, I will see egrets roosting out in the windswept trees, their white feathers in stark contrast to the deep greens and browns of the marsh grasses. Other days, I will see crabs digging into the rich black mud when the tide is low or bats flying out of their roosts at sunset.
Even now, right outside my window, I can see the way the morning sun caresses a live oak tree with its branches reaching majestically toward the sky and Spanish moss swaying lazily in the breeze. Tomorrow the scene will be different. Maybe a squirrel will race up and down the trunk, or a bird will stop there for a moment to sing. Everything changes. When I need strength in the midst of a rapidly paced world, I go out and visit these trees. I touch their old familiar bark, feel the surety and steadfastness running through them, and I know that we share the same world, that we’re all wondrously made of faith and stardust. I marvel at their endurance—so much they have witnessed, so many seasons come and gone. I would love to create something that lasts as long as they do, something that would still inspire people a hundred years later. But for now, maybe it’s enough to just observe my world, to be fully present, to be grateful, and to let the words flow…like water.