Hit the Trail, Little Snail! (A Farewell to Mount Washington)
2017-08-22 09:43:32.000 – Julia Moreland, Summit Intern
“O to realize space!
The plenteousness of all, that there are no bounds,
To emerge and be of the sky, of the sun and moon and flying clouds, as one with them.”
-Walt Whitman ‘Of The Terrible Doubt of Appearance’
Never underestimate what mountains can do. They will break you to your core and then heal every part of you inside, no matter how deep the wound. They will bury you in complete silence, and in the turn of a moment will blast you with the force of a wind seeming to carry the weight of the entire atmosphere. They will push you into the sky and leave you speechless, then present you with a rare artifact of the clouds and make you shout with joy. An unlikely home, Mount Washington did all this and more for me.
I came to the mountain after a long and rigorous semester that, to say the least, broke me down further than I intended to go. After the initial wave of relief that came with the completion of finals, I desperately needed a place for reflection and some kind of peace. On top of a mountain, I thought, what better place to be? How lucky I am to be far away from grueling reality of the ground, and in the simply placidity of the clouds? Though I’ve visited many times before, this was something entirely different, becoming a resident of the celestial canvas of the sky. I was as close to the clouds as I could get, with no one to face but myself, else I let myself fall right off the edge. So I stood at every one of those edges around the summit and admired the views.
I’ve loved it so entirely and so immensely that I began to miss seemingly small things when I was on my off weeks. I missed being eye-level with the bases of clouds and sleeping in my small bed fort that I created with my mom’s quilts and my drying towel covering the opening. I missed staring out the office window with the rest of my shift, ignoring responsibility, because the sight outside was simply too beautiful and captivating. I missed the winds that came at me so fast between breaks in the lifting clouds that I truly and honestly felt like I could be flying. I missed Clay, Jackson, Adams and Madison always standing steadfast in my view and allowing me to feel small, humbled and human. I missed running for rainbows and having the very Appalachian trail at my fingertips to walk in solitude. I missed laughing senselessly at dinnertime after the longest of days and watching I missed the Great British Bake Off so much that we began to think we were baking experts. I missed waking up to ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ on Elizabeth’s phone in the bunk above me, and falling asleep to the white noise machine in complete darkness. I missed the billowing silence of a calm morning and the undercast that blanketed the mountains before lifting and immersing us. With days remaining, I realize I will miss all these things with a greater force than every off week before, as I will not be returning on the following Wednesday. A sobering thought indeed.
It was truly everything I needed at this point in my life and my career. I asked questions and found answers I’d been long looking for, and learned skills I didn’t know I needed. I suppressed my fear of giving tours long enough to feel comfortable speaking to complete strangers with conviction and self-assurance, at least on the outside. I learned what it really takes to have a job in the field of meteorology, and how demanding and truly exciting it can be. Above all, I found a way to make a difference in people’s lives while doing something that I enjoy beyond all things – forecasting. None of which would’ve been possible without the incredible amount of opportunity that comes with being a part of this mountain staff.
Beyond everything, this wonderful place gave me what I needed to put myself back together. Every solitary morning walk around the summit amidst the magnificent expanse of terrain, I found myself humbled and calmed. Every time the winds exceeded 50 mph and held me up while I leaned against it without falling, I felt safe in the arms of the mountain. All the sunsets I watched fall beneath the horizon and leave behind a swath of colors, I felt the distress of the previous months making its grandiose conclusion in my mind and heart. And every time I drove back up, always sad to say goodbye to my love and to my home at Little Squam Lake, I felt myself becoming a little stronger every time; little surer of myself with the weeks of mountain reflection adventures in my wake. How fortunate and humbled I am to be a piece of this observatory and to have known such amazing people, even if only for a short time.
A blog excerpt adapted to my own songs written by Christopher Hohman, who told me the wonders of this place –
“Whenever I end something grand in my life, I always like to pick a song that I listened to a lot during it to sort of be my tribute to that time in my life. I’ve always picked one, but this time three songs just meant so much to me I couldn’t decide. So if you’d like to hear the ‘Songs of my internship’ here they are”:
“Home” – Delta Spirit
“Everything Now” – Arcade Fire
“Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” – George Harrison
And an honorable mention: “Organic Mix” – Tom Howe
Julia Moreland, Summit Intern