Mountains have been the backdrop to much of my life. They’re steady and unchanging. They show me my position in the world, physically and emotionally. They are, literally, my rock. From desert buttes to glacier-capped peaks to smoking volcanoes, they are, and have been, a constant comfort.
My current life with my family in low-county of Savannah, Georgia is beautiful in its own right, but there is not a hill on the horizon. I find myself pining for the West, and worrying that I am not providing my son with the magical childhood I experienced nestled in the Alaska Range.
So for Thanksgiving this year, we made the journey to the nearest mountains and spent a week nestled between Highlands and Cashiers, North Carolina. The Alaskan in me made snide jokes about how these were not “real” mountains, but my southern husband reminded me of the aged beauty of the Smokys. I agreed silently but refused to admit it out loud.
Over the course of a week, I watched my 18-month-old son rejoice in the cold mountain air and the thrill of running down a hill on the verge of tumbling out of control. In watching him I saw a person discovering the world, and the happiness it gave him to find his place – a Boy-Wombat delighting in the slopes of the Great Smoky Mountains.
I am eternally grateful to my son for the opportunity to the see the world new again. There is something special in a childhood spent outside, whether that is in the mountains of Alaska, the ancient Appalachians or the low-country of the American South. I cannot wait to continue discovering the beauty of our new landscape together.