Hi hi, friends!
The book Cold Mountain won the National Book Award in 1997. The actual Cold Mountain is an hour’s drive from Asheville. The author Charles Frazier was from here, and if you lived here in the late ’90s the book was pretty much everywhere you went. (In that way, it was the Chloë Sevigny of Asheville.) I somehow never read it and never saw the movie—for which, Wikipedia reminds me, Renée Zellweger won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress—but earlier this summer I decided I wanted to climb the mountain and so in a couple weeks that’s what I’m going to do.
It’s about ten miles to the summit and back. This is the view from the top:
I was doing some research on it yesterday and, depending on which site I look at, it seems like either a fantastic or terrible way to spend a day. My friend Z. agreed to hike it with me, and the last time we talked about it her expression managed to convey both “I’m with you” and “I wish I had Googled a little more before I said yes.” We’ll see!
This week, I started walking a little extra each day in the woods to get ready. We’ve had a lot of rain the past couple weeks, and the woods are humid and overgrown. There are mushroom metropolises growing out of the fallen trees, and whenever I look down at the trail, I almost always see two or three daddy longlegs skittering along too. The wild raspberries are out. The bears are out too—this year I’ve seen three mothers with eight cubs between them in the area. The walks are hot and mosquito-ish and, because of the bear potential, a little jumpy-making, and still deeply enjoyable.
I don’t know how your brain’s been lately—but mine’s been scattered. So scattered! Part of it’s the news and worry about what it’ll be next week or month. The rest of it’s just summertime gadding around and that I haven’t been writing well. I’ve gotten like an overstimulated bee that can’t. stop. buzzing. Every time I sit down I pop back up. I turned on Freedom the other day to work and, because I couldn’t reach the Internet, all the Stickie notes on my computer desktop are now in beautiful, perfectly aligned order. Meanwhile, I forgot a dentist’s appointment, and a day after that forgot my house key when I went out. And so I’ve been thinking of these walks as a Reclaim The Brain kind of project, in addition to Cold Mountain preparedness, with the idea that all I have to do on them each day is be quiet and walk, count daddy longlegs, and keep an eye out for any protective bears; and hopefully, somewhere in there, my brain will stop it’s buzzing. If your brain’s been buzzing lately too, I hope you can find something quiet and pleasurable to do this weekend, in the woods or out.
Over at Longreads this week, an old, favorite Black Cardigan dispatch on the wonderful writing advice offered by Harriet the Spy!
Until next week,
hoping life has more honey for you than stings,
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Black Cardigan Edit