MyStoryYourStory: Black Hills Overlook straddles views

By Paula Damon

Only an hour or two before dusk, I am standing at the vortex of these canyons. Stretching beyond – carpets emerald seamlessly roll over dozens of grassy knolls scattered about.

A sharp cool wind cuts across my cheeks, reminding me of its invisible might while sturdy Ponderosa pines defiantly sway in contrastingly slow stillness.

Paula Damon

Paula Damon

What do I want so badly that I am here on this narrow rocky ledge on the Black Hills Lookout in the Nebraska National Forest?

A favored spot, pointing north, the lookout straddles views to the east and west. Leading me here, a narrow well-trodden stony path, lightly tromped on for a half-century or more by hundreds, maybe thousands, of seeking souls, like me, who dared to venture down that frequently blown out gravely lane behind me, the one splitting tree groves and pastures, girded with ghosts of the past.

My feet are positioned only inches from sharp drop-offs where entanglements of bramble, brush and branches wait.

Squinting at dulling sunlight, I strain to see beyond the vanishing point. Forming a visor over my eyes with my cupped palms, I behold clouds touching down far in the distance where massively high – big, big sky reverences earth and genuflecting before open fields, which nod in kind and carry on their way to nightfall.

I wonder to myself with chilly May air tapping methodically on my chest and forearms and thighs – am I longing for with earnest that which I cannot see, yet telegraphs to my heart what tomorrow may hold?

Such unbridled beauty – wild flowers dancing before my tired bones, rocky mounds stoic and strong about my limp arms, a nagging cold front nipping at my neck.

I reach out as to a tablemate, yearning for nature’s company, whose promise will leave me full to overflowing.

Even while sun lowers her booming rays into unblemished darkness, I stay, courageously facing what’s to come.

Kneeling at the altar of these canyons, my fingertips numbing yet fluent in such grace this place pours on me, in me and through me, I feel a band of triumphant marching.

My head is airy, my soul purified, my mind cleared. An understudy of the power, precision and polarity of nature, I take note, watching and listening, learning to be still and know.

Bowed, I respond believingly to such lessons taught here on this ledge, in this forest, high above burgeoning spring pastures frozen by distance.

Girded in trust, even though I am miles from such security concrete streets and sidewalks lend, I am home in this favored spot, pointing north, straddling views east and west.

My feet are positioned only inches from sharp drop-offs where entanglements of bramble, brush and branches wait.

What do I crave so greatly, causing me to stand on this narrow rocky ledge at the Black Hills Lookout in the Nebraska National Forest?

Leading to it? A rutted stony path, lightly tromped on for a half-century or more by hundreds, maybe thousands, of seeking souls, who dared to venture down the frequently blown out gravely lane – the one splitting tree groves and pastures, girded with ghosts of the past.

What is it that I desire that the joyous screaming inside me cries out to stay?

What is it that causes me to groan with tired happiness for adoption into this forever place only changed by nature’s will and necessity, not by human greed and strife?

More, ever after.

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