Category: Mountains

To Listen, To Connect….To Love

To Listen, To Connect….To Love

800_4167It was below freezing when I arrived at the farm. Frost dusted delicate tendrils of dried wildflowers in open fields and glistened in the early-morning light. Everything it touched was transformed with crystalline beauty.

Many years ago I stopped bringing live trees into my home for Christmas. Instead I purchased a fake tree manufactured in China….made of plastic. Three years ago I made the decision to support local tree farmers and remove the toxic tree from my life. I realized that trees raised on farms support local farmers and can be recycled. I also thought that when harvested and put in a place of honor, they are fulfilling their destiny. But being a sensitive soul I have to harvest consciously–with appreciation and love….with tenderness.

800_4116Weeks ago I planned the excursion to Boyd Mountain Tree Farm in Waynesville, North Carolina. I would be visiting my friends in Asheville over Thanksgiving so the fraser fir farm would be on my way home. When I made the decision to invite a living tree into my home, it was Boyd Mountain that called me. I was living in Asheville at the time so it was an easy morning’s outing then. The lovely energy of the land as well as the family and staff that cares for the trees stayed in my mind so I was excited to visit once more.

Last year I went to a local tree farm near my home in coastal Alabama but found out, the morning after bringing the Leyland Cypress into my home, that I was allergic to it and had to drag it, fully decorated, out the French doors on to the screened porch where it remained over the holidays. It graced my courtyard with beauty but I missed the closeness of it.

mitchellblogI remember vividly the smell of fraser firs when I would drive up to Mount Mitchell or other high elevations along the Blue Ridge Parkway for sunrise photography excursions. The intoxicating aroma was amazing and I felt changed, altered from it. Scents can do that and each of us has special ones that trigger delightful memories. For me, the smell takes me back to North Carolina and I see myself standing on a high ridge overlooking mountains with fog-filled valleys. The air is crisp and I feel as if I have wings that are strong and can carry me anywhere life calls me to go.

800_4131Many emotions filled me on the frosty walk up the mountain at the tree farm. Early morning sunlight filtered through dark green branches, some still dusted with snow. The beauty touched me deeply. I felt intense gratitude for the trees and those who care for them. The frozen earth, hard beneath my boots, seemed to pull me up and up as I was drawn further into the lush limbs that reached out to brush me as I walked past.

Rather than look for a ‘perfect’ tree I simply opened my heart and listened. Letting my mind quieten, I was guided to a snow-covered tree and knew it was the one when tears began to trickle down my face. I didn’t choose the tree, it chose me. I felt the connection strongly.

800_4119I gently touched its soft, snow-covered needles and offered gratitude and a blessing for the sacrifice it was making. But very clearly I heard in my mind that fulfilling a destiny requires a sacrifice. Later I pondered the idea and realized we sacrifice our ego, a direction we were headed, a relationship, a place of residence, a job, or any number of ‘things’ as we move through life, honoring our path.

Perhaps Christmas trees have a sense of their purpose as they grow in long rows hugging the mountain. Maybe they feel the joyful emotions of children and adults who weave trails across the slope. I wonder if they know something special awaits. Do they swoon a bit after being cut and then awaken later to find something similar to the stars of heaven resting on their branches, sometimes in bright colors. And maybe then, on some level of tree consciousness, they recognize the fulfillment of their destiny as they stand as the focal point of joy and love in their chosen home.

1412515_10152027915954214_382559382_oWhen we open ourselves fully to life, we cannot help but fulfill our ever-unfolding destiny. Perhaps it isn’t one, final event that gives evidence of success in life but each step along the way, each opportunity we take to open our hearts to listen, to connect….to love.


Some facts about farm-grown Christmas trees:

-They are grown on American family farms and make an important economic contribution to many rural communities.

-One acre of Christmas trees provides the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people. There are 500,000 acres of Christmas trees grown in the U.S. which collectively provide oxygen for 9 million people each day. Young, fast-growing trees release more oxygen than mature forest trees.

-For every tree harvested, another one is planted to ensure a steady supply.

-Christmas tree farms support wildlife such as turkey, quail, songbirds, rabbits and deer.

-Christmas trees are an all-American renewable, recyclable resource. They can be chipped for mulch and used for building dunes at beaches.


Mountains and Friends

Mountains and Friends


It has been over 19 months since I moved from the mountain in the Riceville Valley area near Asheville, North Carolina. Today I returned. The mountains snuck up on me as it was foggy and pouring rain as I wound my way up through the North Georgia Mountains. Rather than the usual distant view of the mountains, that always makes my heart light up and teases me with the majesty to come, I found myself suddenly surrounded by peaks and thrust into the beauty of mountain energy.

Living in Asheville was a wonderful experience and a dream come true for me. My creativity was unlocked here and connections with others boosted my work…my friend Jen and I used to take wild day trips to the Smoky Mountains and immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature while practicing our art of photography. I met her on the mountain.

sharkswebThe owner of the company that published my first book lived a couple houses down the mountain from me. She helped me learn about the business and taught me the art of editing. Other mountain neighbors became friends as we connected through this magical place that draws so many wonderful people.

As I got closer to Asheville this afternoon I became anxious. I wasn’t sure how to return gracefully to a place I deeply loved and left. How does a person love a place so fully and leave it? For me it was a call back to big water and coastal life that I had been away from for twenty years. So the move south was a good one but I was left with a heart full of love for the mountain and friends that became family.

The time spent in my new coastal home has been focused on healing my life. That opportunity came about due to a relationship that ended…the one I thought would be the forever one. Coming back to the mountain meant facing possible emotions of sadness and grief. I have worked so hard to heal my heart I was fearful that I’d slide back into the darkness from which I had freed myself. Nineteen months of deep, inner work were about to be tested.

photoAs I ate at Doc Chey’s, my favorite Asheville restaurant, I saw in my mind’s eye my former husband and I there but rather than sadness I simply observed and enjoyed the meal. Afterwards I walked to Mast General Store, another Asheville favorite, and walked around hearing the familiar clumping of people’s feet on the wooden floors. Downstairs I touched a shirt made of waffle-type thermal material, the kind that he used to wear, and my breath caught. A moment of sadness arose but was replaced with a sweetness as I remembered his strength and then I simply walked on…letting go even more and feeling the strong sense of wholeness within my being.

one of my friends on the deck of my former home here
one of my friends on the deck of my former home here

It continued to rain as I drove east toward my former neighborhood and as my car began the familiar climb up the mountain I felt like a horse being led to something she feared…balking a bit but then I was passing my former cedar home with the wall of windows overlooking the valley and I felt that I had truly moved on and my home wasn’t there any more. There were no ghosts of the past lurking about.

The familiar arms of my friend Phyliss embraced me. Actually it was my buddy Abbey that greeted me, wagging her tail and smiling with excitement. Then the Phyliss hug…and then Bob. These special friends welcomed me with such warmth. All anxiety of facing the past evaporated as I recognized the healing that has come to my life. I realized I had truly come home to myself.

Later this evening we drove back down the mountain and dined with other dear friends. Laleah and Bill provided a wonderful evening where the conversation was rich and varied with deep sharing and multiple explosions of laughter.

the winter that helped me decide to head back to the tropics....
the winter that helped me decide to head back to the tropics….

And the mountain…let me say how incredible it is to be on the mountain again. This place nurtured my soul and helped me open to the creative spirit. It was here that I felt my wings expand and carry me into the heavens where I learned that flight takes only surrender to the forces that are ready to lift us all to our potential.

As I reflect and write I sit snuggled under blankets as the wind howls in the rainy, cold night. The weather forecast calls for snow and with the excitement of a child I realize that I have come full circle in my life and am ready for the next flight on which these wings will carry me. What a blessing to be able to return to this family of friends and a mountain of magic and wonder. My heart is filled with gratitude as I count the many blessings that continue to fill my life from the coast to the mountains.

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