Warm was the day, as she walked slowly through the wooded view known as Zoar Valley. Silence was at a stand-still. The only sounds to be heard were the faint footsteps of her feet brushing against the wild weed and the distant flow of the slow moving creek. Branches lofting overhead created a kaleidoscope of sunlight that only she could appreciate at that very moment.
Paths were coming from different directions as though the secluded hide-a-way had been found and wore down with feet from times past. As she walked to her left, she spotted a stream which led into the Cattaraugus. Deja vu had come over her as her thoughts went back to her childhood days of family time on “The Hill.” Everyone from her father’s generation, including her, knew the meaning of “The Hill”.”
“The Hill” was their comfort zone..their “go to” place where family and friends would unite and reunite. “The Hill” was God’s wide open country of exploding colors from all four seasons where she and her family had captured the essence of simplicity. With each step coming closer to the Cattaraugus, she felt at ease in her environment. She was as close to “The Hill” as she could be.
She continued to walk. Just ahead, she couldn’t help but notice an old tree that stood as tall as life itself. It’s elevated crown of leaves towered over, giving a sense of protection. Dense moss wrapped around the lower trunk and ground adding a deep appearance of green. It’s grandness overcame her as she stepped down onto the embedded beams of support.
Over time, the trees deepest roots had burst through the soil to give an illusion of what looked like “steps” to guide her along the unfamiliar walk. The walk, though unfamiliar, seemed to bring an awareness of familiar family reminiscences.
Zoar Valley, Cattaragaus Creek and its “Hill”-like characteristics took her back to her family heritage. Stepping across the “life-giving” roots of the mossy tree took her back to her own family tree…Thoughts of the deep-rooted people who had given her a firm foundation to weather the storms of life. The natural, tranquil setting whispered a calmness of self-assurance of her childhood country place.
Some people may look upon the surfaced roots as unsightly and somewhat in the way..but, not her. She saw stability, longevity and many years of growth. She saw the brown branches randomly stemming from the tree as family members, going their separate ways but still attached to the trunk making the tree complete. She saw the mossy green resembling the many ups- and- downs, the good and the bad, as life learning experiences that make us who we are.
As she walked back up the embedded lateral “steps”, she knew she would always think back to the day when she saw her deeply-rooted family tree through the vivid setting along Cattaraugus Creek.
What are some of your family “comfort zones” or “go-to” places where you shared special moments?
Cattaraugus Creek is real. It is a stream in western NY that flows primarily through the Cattaraugus Reservation of the Seneca Tribe which is southwest of Buffalo, NY. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattaraugus_Creek
Zoar Valley is real. It is referred as the larger valley of Cattaraugus which contains some of the last remaining old growth forests in Western NY. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoar_Valley
“The Hill” (which is the family nickname) is real. It is also know as Odell’s Knob Summit, a mountain summit in Harrison, County, WV which climbs to 1,529 feet above sea level. It is near the cities of Wyatt, WV and Shinnston, WV. www.mountainzone.com/ …/detail.asp?fid
The “she” referred in this story is real. The “”she” is me…Laura Lucas Conrad.
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