Overnight, Shenandoah turned into a rainforest. The flapping & soughing high in the apples & pines all night were the arrival of shifting mists: now here, ribboning the grass by my crossed legs; now there, eating and disgorging cities in the guessed distance. Mountain as cloud-catcher. I get a glimpse of the Blue Ridge as fortress and screen, as it was during the Civil War. Momentarily, descent seems foolish, impossible. Then the clouds shift again, the road shows just enough of itself, and the slow miles wind away down to the valley. I return to hours on the same-same four-lane interstate with some sadness, but GPS has one more surprise for me: a winding mountain road linking 81 with the heart of Blacksburg, where I will spend the night with some couch surfing friends tonight.
There's an obvious thing that could be said here, about clarity and doubt, perspective and its loss. But what I actually feel is: like this. Like this. Sunny ridge, glorious sunset, foggy morning, winding road, super-highway, Denny's veggie-burger, public library's generous shelter, this gray afternoon. Just like this.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.
108 Names of Now