Sanctuary Among The Hills

About three feet from the muddy banks of the ordinarily shallow creek in the unmown field, I lay underneath two scrawny crabapple trees. Here was a sanctuary that held beauty every season of the year: greens that glistened in the brilliant summer sun, blazing colors of autumn, and ice-coated bare branches above waist-deep snow of winter. But today I rest as I relish the pleasures of a late spring afternoon with my frail-looking pet Friskie by my side. It is this beloved spot where the earth has molded to the shape of my body and that of my dog. Here I could find peace of heart throughout my youthful years.

Only a couple of weeks earlier there gnarled branches were covered with infinite unopened buds. Now, as I glanced up, they were proudly displaying their clothes of pea-green entwined with scattered blossoms of every hue of pink. It appeared that a fairy had painted these snowflake-shaped blossoms with various shades of milky white, crimson to deep maroon. Not only were they a sight to behold, but also these delicate flowers were velvety and silky to touch. Their fragrance was sweet as it perfumed the country air.

These two trees with branches twisted and spread in every direction and length were so unshapely. They were no comparison in regard to height or form to the stately evergreens that towered above our house. Yet, they were just as lovely to me.

Across the creek I scanned the hillside now clothes in its robe of greens. I know well that coves of evergreens, maples, elms and oaks dominated the upper portion of the hillside. In the clearing I attended to the unbroken rhythm of the seven horse-like oil jacks rising and lowering as they pumped petroleum from deep wells beneath the surface of the fields at the foot of the hills. Narrow metal rods, connected to the pump house nestled snuggly into the hillside, ruled these oil jacks. Constructed of tin, the weathered side of the pump house was dull while the remainder shone in the glorious afternoon sun. It appeared quaint surrounded by daisies, lady slippers and other wildflowers for which I know not their names.

I cherished the now swollen creek. The spring rains, along with the contribution of melted snow from the hilltops, had caused the cold water to swell to the brim of the banks. How it stank if you were not accustomed to the odor of this precious black gold! I marveled how beautiful the moss-covered rocks appeared beneath the rainbow-colored circles of oil that oozed into the water. Small bullhead minnows swam joyfully without the fear of humans needing them for bait. I had the desire to join them, if only the water had been deep enough. They didn’t seem to mind when I moved some rocks and made a stepping stone path to cross to the other side for hiking up the hillside.

This is my sacred place in the world of nature. For here, no words are necessary to fulfill the cycle of communication. No sounds need to be heard to appreciate life. Here, the elegance of our priceless universe is plentiful to one in need of relief from the pressures and frustrations of daily life. This is my sanctuary among the hills.

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