I love my friend Mary. I'm convinced that the true stuff of life is love, understanding, companionship; it's the sharing of life with others, serving and being served, accepting and being accepted. It's what makes life truly rich, and it can be pretty hard to find. But that is exactly what I've found in my friendship with this woman, and it's just so good.
So when we both had the idea of a hike through nature involving a glorious view (#same), we made it happen.
There's a fairly popular lookout nestled in the ridges of middle Tennessee called the Stone Door, just about an hour from the Nashville area (or an hour and a half, if you are unable, despite the best efforts of Google Maps, to follow directions and end up on one-lane farm roads surrounded by tall corn). Nearby is a teeny little hilltown called Beersheba (BUR-shu-buh) Springs, and the whole trail system is embedded in the South Cumberland State Park.
The way to the Stone Door is via a moderately short hike through the woods. When my beautiful friend Mary and I went earlier this fall, the forest floor was well-padded with orange, red, and yellow leaves. The squirrels rustled loudly in the brittle brush, and the afternoon sun cast its rays through the thinning branches like glistening shards of bright heaven.
And then there was a break in the trees, and it was there. The cliffs opened out into a colossal view of the expanse between our ridge and the next, and the valley between them. Navigating around large rock formations, we found the very best spots and paused for pictures and shenanigans.
Birds swooped high above the valley trees, but far below our dangling feet.
When we got tired, we sat down on the cliff's edge and talked. Just talked. About life and friendship and happiness, and what it means to find it, and whether you should look for it or let it come to you. You know, topics folks usually cover when they find themselves on an adventure together.
The sun began to fall.
We looked for a waterfall on our way back to the car, but found it dry like the air and leaves and everything else during this time of year. We poked around and found the stream which usually feeds the falls, were tempted by strangers to make an extremely dangerous and possibly illegal descent to the bottom of the now-dry ravine, and wisely declined the invitation in favor of dinner.
An hour and several corn fields later, we were home.
And it was just the best day.
Love you, Mary.
Love you, Tennessee.
Love you, life.