June 6, 2018, 7:30 pm. I am writing this from Parnassus, our 5-acre sliver of raw forest land and daydreams in West Virginia. We have spent the last 3 days here working hard on projects. The physical work is good, it clears our minds of doubt and distraction. We feel at peace here. The calm is almost shocking, if is weren’t so, well, calming.
We wake up with the sun, to the sound of the birds greeting the daylight. Amethyst jumps from the tent and starts a campfire while I snooze. He comes to greet me a half hour later – “Coffee is ready!” We walk the property while enjoying a warm mug of lovingly-made coffee, and he tells me about all the early-morning delights he witnessed while I slept. We then begin our projects. It is barely eight am.
By ten we are hungry, so we stop for a late morning breakfast. Nothing extravagant – oats or granola. Then we continue until early afternoon, when Amethyst starts a campfire (all of our cooking is done by campfire) and nestles some foil-wrapped sweet potatoes in the coals. We wrap up our morning work as the potatoes bake in the fire, then unwrap them, top them with greek yogurt, and devour them.
Once we have eaten, we begin to slow down. We take stock of all we have accomplished thus far – it is amazing how much two inspired early-risers can complete in a morning. We set out for our afternoon work with less of a sense of urgency. The fuel we just supplied ourselves begins to burn quickly, however, and soon we have hit a second stride. We work with smiles. Suddenly it is 4:00. We realize we are tired and dirty and have done all we can do – it is usually a lot.
We rinse off with a camp shower, then crash into our tent, or onto the pergola, or any other patch of sun, and rest our weary bodies. Everything slows down, the air becomes thick. A deep sense of satisfaction of all we have accomplished and all we are surrounded with takes hold.
The sun begins to take on a glowing golden aura as we rise. We gather food for a feast and make our way to the fire pit once more. Amethyst prepares a fire while I prepare the food. Onto the grill go heaps of meat, vegetables, and other delicious morsels. We watch it, listen to it, and smell it all sizzle. Meanwhile, a glass of wine and a glorious sun embrace us. We dine surrounded by trees, birds, and our mutual love for this land.
Then, when the time is right and our bellies are full, we wander down the path we’ve made to where the cabin will sit. And we watch. We watch the most glorious sunsets over the mountain ridges, the view framed by pine trees. We stare at the horizon, and at each other, in pure amazement.
Once night falls, our neighbors sometimes gather with us here, or we make our way to their yards. We sit in a circle around a campfire, with bottles to drink and stories to tell. Other nights, we stumble into the tent before the sun has even really disappeared, and read books by a lantern until our eyelids can’t manage to open anymore.
We fall asleep, listening to whippoorwills and owls.
We want nothing more.
Mount Parnassus is to Ancient Greeks what Mount Ararat is to Christians: The point where life springs forth after a great disaster; the promise of a second chance. This land is, to me, much the same. It is the place where I come to learn who I am, what I want, and what I am capable of. It is the place where all my thoughts become clear. It is the place where I find stillness – my mind can finally stop its constant banter, its incessant efforts to find and solve all problems. There are no big problems here. Logistics become secondary. I can finally discover what has been waiting for me under all of the planning, the worrying, the fighting with myself.
It is from Parnassus that I spring forth.