Friday, February 27, 2015

Why a Mountain?

Why a mountain? If you have been to one, lived on one, or left one behind, you know the answer.  So all these mountains you hear tell about, are they for real?
Some mountains have their roots in this world. Their images haunt our photos, guidebooks, or even songs: Kilimanjaro, McKinley, and Machu Picchu.  

Some rise above their physical reality and live in our imaginations because of a great story: Heidi’s Swiss Alps where she lives with her grandfather and helps Peter the goatherd and his grandmother; King Arthur’s Mount Snowden in Wales; the Virginian’s Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

Some are Biblical: from Psalm 121 KJV: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help”; Noah’s Mount Ararat; or Moses’ Mount Sinai.

Some are fantastical: Tolkien’s Mount Doom or the Misty Mountains mythical
or mythical: Mount Olympus.

No matter where or when, without or within, mountains have an ineffable quality to make us believe in the possibility of both/and and give up a dependence on a narrower field of either/or.
Mountains demand transcendence. Mountains create myths and miracles—and multiple realities.
Mountains kill. Mountains heal.
Mountains teach us who we are. Mountains make us sing.

And sometimes we kill mountains. Just ask any who have seen the monstrous bulldozers that have invaded the mountains of Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. (See Richard B. Drake, A History of Appalachia, University of KY Press, 2003 or go to:

For me, some mountains—the Scottish Highlands and the Appalachians in USA— cross the barriers of time and space to cohabit two realities. They exist as physical realities and in my memory of lived experience.