On the Hill

I finished my class around 4 yesterday afternoon. I spent the next hour on the phone or dealing with email, trying to clean up the political mess that characterizes my work place these days. Fed up with it all, I drove to a remote spot a few minutes away from campus.

I teach in Alfred, NY. Alfred is a small town of about 800 year round residents, and it is very remote. The next closest town is about 20 minutes away, and the closest city is over an hour. It’s easy to find raw forest and country solitude in Alfred.

So, frustrated, I set out to find a place for myself. There is a hill on top of the valley that I often go to in these times of need. It’s close, easy to get to, and very private. This picture of the deer bones was made at this spot a few years back.

Yesterday, a clear and beautiful spring afternoon, the air was clear and warm, the sky a brilliant blue, and the birds were back from winter. I walked out into a large field of wild grasses. Everything is still sprouting, so the field was easy to walk. I sat down with an open view of the horizon, and a gorgeous late afternoon sun on the hill tops beyond. I sat and smoked a joint. All I could hear were bird calls and the wind blowing by my ears. All stresses melted away, and life seemed both real and meaningful, and more importantly I understood that all that really matters is well beyond the scope of the petty arguments I left behind at the school. I said to myself, out loud, “This is freedom. This is really freedom.” I sat there for about an hour, trying to remain still, just looking, hearing, and feeling. All that is right about the world was there before me, and I could touch, indeed I was part of it.

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