River Majesty, Ellijay, GA

I really can’t complain about my present situation. I’m on my private deck, panda cheerfully (as cheerful as she can be) by my side, about a hundred-fifty feet above the river’s edge. I’m listening to doo-wop, with the background music of rippling water, and slowly consuming strawberry mentos.

Not bad for a Wednesday afternoon.

It’s also pretty cool when you can look out the kitchen window and see a deer, looking back at you. I was able to grab a rotting apple, cut it up in front of her, and throw her pieces. It’s crazy to have her little doe eyes watching me, much like a puppy, waiting for her treats. Beside her was a chubby little squirrel, happily munching on the kernels of corn I had thrown out there earlier this morning. We were a happy little family, and I understood how Lisa can stand out there for hours, feeding her animals.

Yesterday afternoon, there was a light rain, and afterwards, around 5:30, I decided to take a walk around the area. I was in absolute heaven, for the rain had inspired everything to glisten, and the light was respledently laying upon every little leaf and stone. My camera got a workout, as did I, and I fell asleep last evening, content that I had captured pieces of beauty in a box.

I found out today that there are pandas at the Atlanta Zoo… so… um… HOLY FREAKIN’ YES! 🙂 I plan on making a day of driving down there, sitting with Panda beside her family’s exhibit, and leaving when they force us out (panda kicking and screaming, I’m sure).

Beyond that, not too much to divulge. I’ve been finally able to relax a little more (relaxation is an art form) and I’m sure by the time I get it mastered, it will be time to move on. But alas, this time in Georgia is definitely a beautiful way to rejuvenate and prepare for the next leg of my journey.

I had a terrible dream last night. I dreamed that I was back home, no longer on the road. It was the strangest feeling; I didn’t understand why I was home, in my bed, and I started to panic. I couldn’t move, I was too tired, but all I could think was “No! I have to get on the road! I had already gone so far; why am I back here?” The dream brought up a lot of different emotions for me, but it gave me the ability to perceive my current travels as one would a memory, rather than a present experience. I guess it is crucial to see the bigger picture sometimes; and in this case, I was able to realize that forty years from now, when I look back on my life, this roadtrip will have been the turning point. I will be able to say “so then I packed my car, and drove away.”

And that was when my life began.

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.

Cherokee, NC & Ellijay, GA

Panda is extremely happy about our new location. She is currently reclining like a queen in our king size bed, listening to the sounds of the Cartecay River outside our third story cabin window, occasionally mumbling to herself about how she wants to feed the deer in the morning.

This evening we are in Ellijay, nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia.

We were welcomed here a few hours ago by my cousin, Lisa. She is actually a second cousin of my mother’s, and they grew up together. Mommy is very happy to know I am safely ensconced here with family, not gallivanting about couchsurfing. It is absolutely gorgeous here, so I can’t deny that I’m content to be here, as well. First of all, the drive alone was majestic, traveling through the mountain ranges. My straight and wide recollection of highways could barely handle the curvy turns and twists of the narrow roads here; nevertheless they are termed as highways, and are the only way to get from point A to B. As I drove, I couldn’t help but to think how even a hundred years ago, a mile was a mountain, both figuratively and literally. No wonder people settled into the curves of the hills and never left; there were little options beyond that existence. There is something both tranquil and terribly isolating in that thought.

Before the Blue Ridge Mountains welcomed us, Panda and I briefly visited the Great Smoky Mountain Range, as well. I was thrilled to attend my very first Native American Powwow, right on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina. I woke up, relatively early (for me), said goodbye to Chris as he left for work, then headed over to Cherokee for the Memorial Day Weekend Powwow. As I drove deeper into the mountains, I could barely contain my joy – I could smell the husky smell of wood smoke, and almost drove off cliffs a couple times due to my absolute awe of all that was around me. I was tempted to pull off to the side of the road, and simply refuse to leave. For the rest of my life.

Nevertheless, I made it to the powwow, and gratefully so, for it was a wonderful experience. I sat next to a nice woman named Pat, who was also traveling alone, and we both enjoyed taking lots of pictures of the singers and dancers. As soon as the singers began drumming, I felt that burgeoning feeling in my chest again. I have felt so much energy, deep within my chest – first with yoga, then the mountains, now the music. It’s as though the air is pressing down upon my heart, and it is a perfect mixture of yin and yang, pleasure and pain. As the drumbeats started, and the players mixed their voices into the beat, tears formed in my eyes, and I could barely swallow. Again I was overwhelmed with profound emotions, spilling up from my soul. It is not only an awareness of joy and of life, but also of a deep soul pain, probably in a war between feeling and healing.

I’ve only been with Lisa for a few hours, and already we have had incredible conversations. She is a great representation of the kind of person I hope to be, and has accomplished many of the things for which I strive. At the very least, she owns this cabin, which is a perfect symbol for me of everything I dream of – the earth, a sense of peace, security, and authenticity. She might have to pry me off the porch to get me to leave.