Endless, swirling, deep blue cold. You could fall into its’ endless deep blue and swim forever, if only you could fall into the sky, I thought. I stood with my head bent back so far, I was close to falling over myself, as I tried to take in all of the ocean of sky at once. There were just some days when the sky could fool a person with how wet and blue it could look. This was one of those days. And the white, frothy clouds on the far western hills were the crest of giant waves. I straightened, feeling dizzy as my eyes made land fall again. I had no more time for “sky swimming’ today! We had burned most of the wood cooking the last run of sap and there would be little time to cut and stack the pile before bad weather came again. Snow was on its way, but for now the air was warm and the forest seemed to be wakening like a rowdy crowd to the sun and blue above.
I was walking down the East side of our mountain where the land fell steeply away, down to Dry River far below. We would cut wood on the roll of the hill, just before the land became too steep to carry wood from. From this spot the opposing mountain climbed abruptly up to tower above the river and our mountain. Second Mountain, this part was a no man’s land. I would often stop to glance across the air filled distance between my mountain and Second, to scan it’s rugged face for the distant shape of bear or deer. There were hardly ever any, so steep only boulder fields and strong, rooted trees could cling to its’ side.
A tremendous sound rolled through the gorge between mountains, making me hesitate. Must be the river, still swollen from the recent rains, I thought. I gripped tight to a tree and leaned far out to peer over the cliff to the river below. Small rows of ripples moved along the gray rivers width, but it was much quieter than it had been a few days ago. The roar grew louder, faded then grew again. I looked up into the trees but no branches stirred above me. Perhaps a wind was rolling down from the western mountains and would soon sweep across the ridge I stood upon.
Sometimes the wind would roll across the ridge tops and if you waited, a few minutes later the cold breath would wash across your face and shoulders like an unseen wave. The sound grew louder and louder, I waited, anxious to feel the first touch of the cold wind. It would not be good to cut trees in a wind so mighty as this wind sounded. Yet nothing came, nothing moved. I spun around looking in all directions. Nothing! I began to scan from the gorges bottom, climbing up the far mountain. Letting my eyes climb where my body could not. Up, towards the low lying Oaks to the boulder fields. Nothing was moving! Up, up towards a great swath of emerald green that crested the mountains western face, and further up to the mountains highest point. My eyes stopped on the patch of green.The emerald, green that was made of huge white pines.
I suddenly knew, the pines were the source. They swayed and jerked violently as if they would be ripped from the Earth at any moment. Swaying in a terrible current of wind, that could not be seen. I raised a hand bare into the air as if I would be able to feel the great wind from where I stood. My air was still, My mountain still. The roar was steady now, and my heart raced as I watched the tremendous force rip at the pines. The current s of wind must be so much greater there then at the lower elevations. Surely they would give I thought . I pitied them. To be up so high upon a mountain top, rooted deep into the earth with no way to escape. They stood helpless at the most exposed ridge, where nothing could stop the great western winds that poured out across the Ohio River valley and through the West Virginia hills to slam into the first mountains of Virginia. Like a huge under water torrent of a mighty ocean, the current ripped between the mountain tops. It was thrilling and frightening. Then I realized, nothing else on the mountain was moving to the wind, anywhere. Only the pines, growing in a solid patch where only they could lay within the fierce winds reach. Laying in wait, to mob the wind.