I don’t frequently go through the front door of my house, and when I do, it is to stand on the porch, a momentary event at most as the porch is gross and crumbling. The front of the house stands about 20 feet away from a picturesque county road, with a small horse pasture on the opposite side. Having been mentioned as one of the country’s best day rides in a prominent motorcycle magazine, large groups of bikers pass through during the warm months, and people frequently stop and attempt to feed the horses various things that horses probably should not eat. A french-fry in the car is worth two in the field.
Seemingly overnight, the leaves had transitioned into a spectrum of reds, the mountains appearing to be the smoldering remains of a fire. Some of the trees are already without those leaves, providing strong contrast against the warm September day and significant clumps of remaining green, small deciduous groupings still fighting back the coming winter. The mountains warp the seasons, melding the period between late summer and winter so that it is sometimes hard to tell where one starts and the other ends. The fall is quick, often unrecognizable as a season. You may go to bed in August and wake up to find yourself transported to the far depths of November, at least in terms of the flora.
I stood in front of the house, looking at the golden mountains not far in the distance. How long do we have before these mountains are bare, before the protracted silence of the cold months settles in the valley? Three weeks? A bit more perhaps, but the year already displays it’s age, the sun hanging lower in the sky, the birds with less conversation than they were having just a few weeks ago. It has rained hard all day, and now the wind shoves the leaves from the boughs. I say shove, not pull, as a shove is certainly the more aggressive of the two. The sky drops what can be nothing less than all the water lost to this summers drought. The ground, stubbornly dry, denies the fluid mass any quarter, forcing it onward and overland, acres and acres of a puddle.
I have come to love the rain and the wind and solitude that can be found within them. Something in the biting, pelting of this late September downpour makes me feel safe as I stand, a life preserved within the confines of delicate fabric and cloth, enveloped by sheets of life itself. A bubble in space. There is, as far as I know, no better way to meditate on one’s thoughts than the spend some hours in classically bad weather. To be at one with the weather, to embrace the different days as nothing but a variation on the theme, this I believe is true mediation. I once watched a documentary, probably during a college course, as a monk submerged himself into the icy waters flowing off the base of a Himalayan glacier. The interviewer inquired of the man, insisting, “but how does he not freeze?”. Far from freezing, however, the monk began to billow with steam. Asked later on about this ancient ritual which has been performed for hundreds of years, the monk explained that cold was a relative matter, an inconvenience of the mind, and one that could be overcome through training. In fact, one could even train the body to rise in temperature on command, allowing an individual to sit still within waters bordering on the freezing point.
I do not wish to be the monk in these waters. I don’t think it is my destiny to spend so much time in contemplation, though I have often wondered at the peace that these individuals must find. No, I don’t believe I could possibly find freedom in such a lifestyle, so I must instead take these moments in the rain, a minute and solitary place. The world changes, but the peace and stillness of the storm does not. .