This week, I headed back to the mountain house with Sarah, interviewing her in the thick blanket of darkness, gazing up at the star-speckled sky as she told me the story of how she found peace in her new mountain home. She’s a natural storyteller, and with a terrific story to boot. In the interview, she describes the feeling of being pushed out of a place, specifically the place where her and her husband are currently building their new home, on the mountain.
I know the feeling, too. The few times when I travel to the mountain before, I seem to return home to the city with a body more bug bite than skin and more poison than blood. One evening of my return, weeks ago, I remember well: I breathed restless in a room swollen and hot as infection, an anemic hunger keeping me awake, dehydration and relentless sun sucking at my skin like a leech.
Yet, this last trip proved different. Admittedly, each time I travel to the mountain, the kinder it treats me. As I become more comfortable with the vast countryside, the closer I find myself to peace.
Maybe it’s because now I feed Chaneque, the mountain spirit. I now know to lay little orange slices and steaming spoonfuls of black beans on the mound of dirt we deemed his alter, to gaze over the mountain and thank the land for the gift of nourishment.
Maybe it’s because now I practice fearlessness. This week as I was bathing in the river, I found a baby tarantula sipping water from a shallow pool on the rock. Nearby, the faint sound of buzzing bees echoed. I smiled at the tiny leeches clinging to the sloping rock a few steps away. Naked and unafraid, I marveled at how much life can reside in such a small space. So many tiny creatures I may have feared before, but now in which I find awe.
Maybe it’s mindfulness. The simple act of drinking coffee from a tin speckled bowl, with a shot of Mezcal to spice it. The luminous and chilly nights, a rich feast on stars. The consuming darkness, being able to count the few lights that spot the surrounding small town.
I don’t know. I do know that I finally feel at peace with the mountain. For that, I’m grateful.