“The mountains are calling and I must go…” –John Muir
“Are we there yet?” Fred smiled indulgently at me from the driver’s seat of the car. I knew I sounded like a grumpy, impatient child. But it was late afternoon, I was hungry, stiff, and achy. And we were two hours away from our family cabin in Western North Carolina.
The timing for this trip was not good. With the October release of my new book looming, I had an intimidating to-do list that depended entirely on the internet. Our service at the cabin is so slow and unreliable that I’d lose hours of valuable work time. Fred’s work also requires a trustworthy internet connection, now more than ever since the coronavirus has taken him away from the office. My biggest worry was that our newly expanded and remodeled kitchen awaited, and there were just two us to put it all back together in eleven days.
“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.” ― Rumi
Our children’s families wanted to help us. They love this place too. But the risk of exposing someone to the coronavirus was just too high for eleven people in the same house. We knew it was crazy to try this all by ourselves. But I’ve spent every summer there for twenty years and had been longing for it since May. Our little valley is a place of exquisite natural beauty, a nest surrounded by embracing mountains, a sanctuary that fills me with awe and wonder every summer. It has a profound soul-healing effect on me. Despite the time constraints and massive work load awaiting us at home, the pull was too strong. I simply had to go.
After a grueling nine and-a-half hours through two monsoons and a heavy metal buffalo stampede around Atlanta, Fred, Izzy, our granddog, and I finally arrived. All was forgotten when I stepped out of the car and inhaled a lungful of cool mountain air. My heart sang with the familiar melody of the small waterfall and bold creek that run alongside the house.
While Izzy ran off to lap up some pure flowing water and sniff the delectable scents of the Artemisian wilderness, we entered our decidedly Apollonian house. We were met by several cans of paint clustered on a tarp on the floor. Art leaned against walls that needed a second coat of paint. Rugs and pads were rolled up and stowed away. Tools and assorted hardware left by various workmen who still had jobs to finish littered the counters. Bags and boxes containing 36 years of kitchen contents were stuffed into all of one room and half of another.
If a heart can sink, mine did. I felt like Psyche facing Aphrodite’s impossible task of sorting a gigantic heap of poppy, corn, and barley seeds into separate piles before morning to earn the love of her beloved, Eros. This would take up most of our vacation. Where was Psyche’s helpful army of ants when we needed it? Tired, hungry, discouraged, overwhelmed, Fred and I just stood there looking around in dismay.
And then our army arrived. When the doors of the black SUV that pulled into our driveway opened, out came our daughter and granddaughter, both wearing face masks. They had left Orlando shortly after we did to surprise us with three days of help. It felt like a miracle. Perhaps it was. With Julie’s extraordinary design and organizational skills — not to mention her home-made chocolate chip cookies — and Sophia’s cheerful and generous assistance, in two and-a-half days we whipped that kitchen into shape while wearing face masks whenever we got within six feet of each other.
Thank you Aphrodite, Goddess of love. We couldn’t have done it without your benevolent magic.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Tropical storm Isaias was expected to visit Central Florida the day we left. But, willing to risk love’s pull once more, we went anyway, expecting to encounter a real monsoon. It was blue skies all the way.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at Kobo, Barnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Watch for her new book, The Soul’s Twins, to be launched by Schiffer Publishing this October. For more information, subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com. This month she’s offering a giveaway for anyone who pre-orders The Soul’s Twins.