Ozone Falls, TN

I haven’t told you about Ozone Falls! It was a place off of Interstate 40 that Scott told me I should check out on my way over to Nashville. It’s right off the highway; however, it’s tucked away in some foliage and sandstone, so it makes you feel like you’re far away from reality. The crazy thing is you can walk directly up to the falls. As in, you are standing at the point where the stream falls 110 feet over the rock into a deep blue, rock-strewn pool. A ‘rugged ¾-mile trail begins along the bluff near the falls and then descends into the gorge passing a small rock house called Gamblers Den. The trail follows Fall Creek to the confluence with Renfro Creek where hikers must backtrack to return to the trailhead’. That sound fancy, but I copied it from a website.

‘Ozone Falls is situated on the eastern edge of the Crab Orchard Mountains on the Cumberland Plateau. Legend has it that the area was named “Ozone” because of the “stimulating quality of the air” created by the mist that is generated after the long plunge of the water. In the 1800’s, grist and sawmills had been built above the falls. The last one was washed over the falls during a spring flood in 1900.’

Haha, that’s kind of hilarious – the stimulating quality of the air, not sawmills being washed over the falls. That’s scary. Sort of like how I was literally laying over the edge of the falls, staring over a hundred feet down to my death.

But that wasn’t the point of this story – to just share the scary-ass part of it. What was crazy was the moment I shared, by myself. I lay there, shaking with anxiety, and I forced myself to lay upon the sandstone, with it’s slightly downwards tilt, and stare out over the falls. The water was falling over the rocks about an arms length away from me, on my left. And I was part of the landscape; it was almost impossible to believe that I wasn’t going to slide right off the cliff like the water was, and it took all my strength to force myself to stay there for a while.

It seemed like minutes, but it was probably about 45 seconds before I allowed myself to move away from the edge. The way I saw it, who knew when I was going to have an opportunity like that again – to be hanging on a precipice, safe but somehow in such an extreme position, completely alone, and enveloped by the landscape.

It was basically a spiritual experience. And it rocked. 🙂

the sound of water


I fell in love with the sound of water. As a little girl, with my bright blue summer dress and pigtails in my hair, tripping over myself, collapsing into the homemade sandbox by the garden. I was in Vermont, at our summer camp, with its tin roof that made hollow melodies when it rained, its brown paint, and its innate ability to blend into the woods and become part of the forest. I was no more than five, no less than ancient, and my grandma would take my hand and lead me down the dirt road away from the camp. There, a little stream trickled through the trees. I could stand there for hours, tossing pebbles into the water, watching them ripple, hearing them ker-plunk.

There is a steep path of steps leading from our camp down to the water’s edge. When I was very young, the steps were made from pieces of logs and trees, cracked and housing hordes of tiny bug families. It would take my little five-year-old feet what seemed an eternity to reach all the way down to that water, but I would insistently take this journey at least a few times a day. One step at a time, little feet reaching down to the next ledge, sometimes slipping, sometimes falling, always terrified. And it was always worth the effort. Our handmade dock would be swaying and pitching in the water, and it would take me a good minute to become brave enough to step from solid earth to swaying pieces of wood. Then I would lay myself down upon that dock and touch my fingers to the water, fingertips dancing beneath the surface, feelings its coolness, its promise. After a while, I would search deeper, overturning rocks and unearthing crayfish. Every now and then I would be brave enough to touch one, and then squeal with fear and delight.

The water held secrets, and it held pieces of my soul. I still listen to the way it caresses the shoreline, gently lapping against the earth’s edge. On stormier days, the water’s embrace is harsher, more insistent. Yet always it holds pieces of grace, and something close to forgiveness.

The water is rhythmic and reminds me of all the things my soul has been trying to tell me for years. I am far from my five-year-old self, and yet I sense her still here, drawn to the water’s edge. I still descend those steps to the water; I am no longer afraid of the journey, and yet the distance to the dock seems just as far. For even when I reach it, I am still so far away. There is no end to the descent, as there was when I was little Karabelle. For when the little girl arrived, she breathed a sigh, flopped down onto her belly, and giggled with her fingers in the lake.

Now I stare at my feet and see how far away they are from my head, and my fingers tingle, but never touch the water.

I am slowly relearning the strength it takes to bend my knees and reach the ground; to allow myself that surrender to the land around me. The sound of the water is no less palpable, less strong, than it has ever been. From a hundred feet above shore, I can still feel its pull upon my heart, as though tugging upon the cobwebs and releasing forgotten dreams. The river is ancient, and therefore stirs up ancient awareness in me.

Aware of my infinite possibilities, I search for that place where the air meets the water, and hope bubbles up in the form of joy. Eventually, fingertips will once again break the boundary, and I will know what it means to be immersed within the world

Years later, I would walk that dirt road and realize the stream had dried up. To this day, I stand in the same spot I stood as a child, and imagine the water still flowing, wondering how something so alive could fade so easily away. There are other streams nearby, larger streams, prettier streams – but this stream had been mine while Grandma held my hand and passed me pebbles.

Still in Hilton Head, SC

The last two days have involved gorgeous walks around Shipyard, thanks to the suggestion of Hollar, who has been trying to help me see my first alligator. Needless to say, it took me a WEEK to finally find one, but it was well worth the wait. You’ll have to see the video to really understand what I’m saying (yes there’s a video and no it’s not a dirty video)

video.php?v=507753995369

However, the walks (even sans the alligator) have been simply amazing. Today I realized that more than anything else, I’ve been walking. Not doing anything really special, anything too touristy, anything even very exciting. Yet almost every day since I drove away from Massachusetts has involved a long, long walk through woods and on trails. I have taken more gorgeous pictures in the last two weeks than I have in my lifetime, and there really isn’t a way for me to describe to you how satisfying that is for me.

It happened these past two days – I’ve wanted to cry from the beauty of the earth. I know that sounds ridiculously holistic, but it’s true. I felt this incredible swelling in my heart, much like love. But it was for the moment, for the light and the birds and the trees and the earth.

Last night I met two sets of interesting people. The first incident was at the Tiki Hut, where I walked to sit, have a cold soda, listen to some acoustic music, and read my book. Right when I walked in, this woman gave me the kindest smile, which although is very unique for me, is not an odd thing to have happen in South Carolina. So I smiled in return, sat at one of the back tables on the sand, and read for a while. However, one time that I looked up, she caught my eye, and beckoned me over to sit with her and her husband. I obliged, and before I knew it I was engaged with intelligent, spiritual, and slightly slurred conversation with Bonnie, while her husband, Donny (yes, Bonnie and Donnie) sardonically ignored as much as he could.

I figure that the fateful alignment of this meeting mostly involved the fact that Bonnie was an independent, almost 60-year-old woman. However, she was vibrant and lovely and very intelligent. She had her PhD., was accomplished in every area of her life, and I could BE her in 40 years. What she told me during that conversation was to “do it now” – to live my life, go after my dreams, and do it all now before it’s too late. She insisted that I was intelligent, I was beautiful, and I was responsible – and therefore I could not go wrong. But I had to keep doing exactly what I had started, and that she regretted not doing that herself.

It definitely inspired me, and was exactly the conversation I needed.

The second pair involved a 40-something truck driving/construction working guy named Frankie, and a younger, gregarious black guy named… fine, i forgot his name. The beautiful part of this story is the humor involving the fact that these were the guys I happened to attract at the bar, haha. Which was fine with me – I would much rather have a jovial conversation lacking in sexual awkwardness, than I would an intimate conversation lacking in intellectual stimulation. So Frankie and I talked, and it was wonderful, his friend there joined and started telling me who he’d “never been with a white woman” and shared with me how sexy I looked when a piece of my hair fell just like that over my eye…

And although i appreciated the participle of poetry located within that sentiment, I was still annoyed that he was corrupting my innocent moment with crudity.

The funny part was that I started writing this story here earlier today, and then this evening I walked over to the Tiki Hut, on my way to find something to eat for dinner, and randomly this guy beckons me over to smell his “jasmine.” Yes, that was a new one for me, but while I was telling him my name, Frankie overheard and made a joke. I was shocked to see him sitting there, outside at the bar, sipping a beer. But I was very happy to see him, especially since it gave me an excuse to gracefully run way from the jasmine guy. Funny how people come into our lives – Frankie is the nicest guy, very pleasant, intelligent, down-to-earth, and reminds me of a teddy bear. 🙂 My favorite kind of guy. Anybody that reminds me of my grandpa gets an A+ in my book… not that he was old enough to be my grandpa, but he held that air to him… that presence that makes me smile. And I hate how interactions are instantly labeled as either being picked up or not interested. I don’t understand why people can’t interact and learn about each other, care about each other… be with each other, in a moment, and have no expectations beyond that. Perhaps that’s too much to ask, but I’m going to keep valiantly trying for it.

Tomorrow I need to start planning the next leg of my journey. I definitely want to head back down to Savannah, and I’m waiting to hear back from Chas about whether or not I can annoy him and his wife for a bit, haha. 🙂 Stupidest birthday present he could have asked for! 😛



Interconnectedness, Day 8

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.

– John Muir

Am I supposed to understand the intricacies of the human heart? No, I am not. However, I am willing to keep learning and growing, and each day understanding the world and human relationships a bit more. Or perhaps never understanding, and learning to accept that, as well. Regardless, I find it fascinating how one twist in the strands can tint a moment different shades, and leave you unable to sleep for hours.

But enough of that. I am vacating North Carolina today, and traipsing down to Hilton Head, South Carolina
to see my friend, Sarah, and spend some time with her there. She recently moved, and she seems excited to (a) have a visitor and (b) have that visitor be me. Sarah is someone whom I have known my whole life, but the social networks involved in growing up always kept us a few steps apart. However, when I do spend time with her, I see many more layers to her than meets the eye, and I feel that we have grown to respect and care for each other a good deal, even if it’s often from afar. So it will be nice to get to know each other a little better, and have a little fun. Sarah likes to have fun, and I’m not really accustomed to that, so it will be interesting to do something different, haha.

Last night I had an interview with a company from Beijing, China. A couple weeks ago I sent out an application, interested in teaching English abroad. Corey thinks the idea is stupid, and I can’t help but understand where he’s coming from. 😛 I was thinking – no matter where I spent my coming year, if it was outside Massachusetts, it would be an entire new world for me. So it is not really necessary to displace myself so extremely as to go to China. However, I will give the idea consideration. They were impressed with my resume, and such an experience would only develop me more profoundly.

Yesterday was an invigorating day. I went for another walk (this time for almost 2 hours) behind Corey & Laura’s condo complex. Each day, I find new paths and new pictures… and it’s just amazing how every hour, each minute, holds something new and beautiful. Nature can teach us so many priceless lessons, if we are only willing to pay attention. And judging by my photography, I have definitely been a star student. I can not stop taking pictures, and doing so has made me ridiculously happy. Each time I capture beauty behind the lens, I feel ready to jump out of my skin with happiness. It’s comforting to know that writing isn’t the only medium through which I can paint. 🙂

After my walk, I decided to shower and go see something new in the town of Raleigh, NC. So I put on one of my new dresses (yay, dresses!) and pressed a bunch of numbers on my GPS, and found my way to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. It was there that I… learned stuff. Haha. It was nice to take my time and look at the exhibits, and realize that I was far from home, learning stuff. 😛

Following the museum, I made my way to the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University. At first I was unimpressed with the gardens, but then as I wandered further into them, a whole universe of colors and light and smells was opened to me. I took about 600 pictures in two hours (ridiculous, I know). I played with light and colors and my new macro lens, and was basically in heaven. My favorite part was taking off my sandals and feeling the grass and dirt beneath my feet, and finding the hidden secrets of the flowers.

I’m getting stronger every day. Stronger, and happier, and more confident. I even felt pretty yesterday (shock of all shocks!), so we know that this trip has already helped me in many ways. When I left Massachusetts, I couldn’t have been much weaker, in spirit and in song. Already, the layers of my happiness and my hope have begun to warm themselves in the sun. I could not be more grateful for this opportunity to feel alive again.