The Hills are Alive

Nature is not something you can hurry. Planning for weather or flowers usually fails. I went to Hocking Hills yesterday with Joe to get away from Columbus, and hopefully to find some Lady Slipper orchids. We didn’t see any, but it didn’t matter. The whole experience was still very healing, at least after I started relaxing. 

I always forget how alluring natural beauty can be. Hocking Hills is only an hour away, but I still don’t go down there often enough. Each time, I promise to return frequently, but only go a few times a year. This time I even had the "been there" attitude. I had trouble shedding my daily thick skin. I had trouble letting nature in. It’s hard to believe when you see these photos. But I felt clogged, at least at first.


Moss and ferns prevailed in the shade and cool moisture of this gorge. There were numerous shades of green which contrasted with red, rusty pools.

This next photo really looks like a liquid spirit slithering across the rock surface. What does this say to me? My attention was drawn to all the tentacled roots, often dramatically bunched. The micro climate in this gorge is very protective and moist, so these exposed roots can survive. Many trees can be found growing over rocks, like molasses pouring very, very slowly. 


We’re so used to filtering most things out so we can function in the chaos of daily life. I barely listen to birds anymore, or hear the wind whispering through the trees. At one point, we sat on a hill, and when the breeze rustled the hemlock branches above, we could hear the light tapping of needles clicking against the leaf covered ground. It sounded like sleet falling, tapping a message I couldn’t understand.


We came upon this fungus growing out of last Fall’s leaf cover. I have never seen anything like them. They look like pine cones, but they’re soft like mushrooms. If anybody reading this knows what these are, let me know.


After an hour of walking and chatting, Joe and I reminisced about how much each of us used to hike, and how beneficial it is to spirit and body. It takes it’s time, presents itself modestly, even in its glory. It’s our responsibility to give our attention. The incessant inner voice, the monkey mind, chatters to me and through me, babbling about the past, the future, problems, solutions, resolutions, shoulds, won’ts. All the while, this glorious symphony of smells, gentle sounds and sights played before me.


I listened, opened my eyes, breathed into it. And, sporadically, I felt little messages getting through. All this is changing. It’s dying and being born, ruthlessly, peacefully, inevitably. This scene is ultimately temporary. Even the rocks, like the ones in the above photo, are moving. They erode and fall. I wonder what it is like to be around when one of those behemoths shivers, groans, and roars off the cliff above into the ravine below.

Even this tree has it’s story. Growing off the edge of the ledge, it’s glorious reign is all the more regal for its tenacity.


Joe and I trekked 6 miles round trip from Old Man’s Cave to  Cedar Falls. I wish it could have been 16 miles. Near the end I felt all the more aware of my crusty shell and what glorious anthems I barely heard or saw. But I knew that message would alway be there, anytime I was ready to open to it.

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5 thoughts on “The Hills are Alive

  1. The ‘fungus’ is, I believe, actually the flowers of a parasitic plant living on the roots of some tree — perhaps American Squawroot (Conopholis americana) given there are oak leaves around it in your picture. My favorite parasitic plants, however, are dodder (because it looks so STRANGE) and indian pipes (because they manage to be ugly and beautiful at the same time).

  2. Stunning photography! Where is this place and oh do I want to visit it!
    We’ve nothing like that in Houston! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Yes – lovely photos. We have lots of these green areas in NZ and you are right – it is rejuvenating to get out amongst it all- something I need to do more often.

  4. These are the images I try to conjure up when I am meditating. How fortunate that you have experienced them first hand. Gorgeous photography, by the way. Keep up the great work!

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