It’s been a cotton candy bubble gum kind of day.
I awoke at the crack of 11AM. I filled my lungs with fresh air. I drank coffee to freshen my groggy body. But my brain stayed foggy all day.
J and I drove out to Yellow Springs, Ohio today, about an hour away, to enjoy the season’s color and crisp, sunny weather. On the way out I felt grumpy and dull. All my thoughts were covered in a plastic film.
The occasional flaming tree among grays, browns and greens simmered by across my sight. They looked like loud street vendors hocking shiny goods for cheap. They’d pop up and scream. I couldn’t ignore them, even if I tried. They passed, replaced by others, less loud; then another, blaring audaciously. "Look at me!"
We had a fine brunch at the Winds CafÃ©. The food is creative and high quality. Not what you’d expect from a small, country town. Yellow Springs is tiny, but it’s the home of Antioch College, and so has attracted settlers from the intelligent, liberal ilk of its offspring. This is probably one of the most liberal small towns in Ohio, if not the US.
Stuffed with yummy stuff, I felt sleepy and logy. More coffee helped, but not by much. My brain felt gummy and lumpy, like a damp blanket slumped in the corner. No harm, just there. I kind of enjoyed the muffled incoherence insulating me from anything too serious.
We moseyed off to hike, the other reason we drove this direction. On the way we stopped at Clifton Mill, which holds its own timeless attractions.
I hankered for sugar and bought some bright colored, cotton candy flavored bubble gum balls. For some reason, I could relate to them, to their artificial easy flavor. Instant, empty entertainment for a boggy brain.
Clifton Gorge is a unique natural harbor for borderline rare wildflowers. In the flat expanse of western Ohio, it cuts deep into the earth, carved by rapidly melting glacier water eons ago. We parked near this sudden fissure in the land, and sauntered along an elaborate raised wooden path built along it’s rim to protect the area from erosion.
The beautiful weather had brought out hoards of lookers, most of which looked like they barely knew how to walk, let alone walk much. After the flat boardwalk ended, those clumps of accidental naturalists lumbered down the craggy stone steps descending to the bottom of the gorge. We slogged behind them, smiling with them in their valiant, wheezy attemps to commune with nature. Whole gaggles of families swam in this busy stream, from toddlers to grampas, it was a wholesome kind of scene.
I heard the stream’s chuckling, murmuring speech, but it was mostly drowned out by my bubble brain babble. Sticky, jaw flapping junk stretched empty searching across a groundless canvas.
I chewed my gum, which stuck to my teeth. Its flavor didn’t last long either, so I popped a bright new ball into my mouth every few minutes. I spat the old rubber knot over the edge of the gorge. My fuzzy mood smiled blandly that it might get stuck in some curious rabbit’s teeth.
Along stream’s banks, leaves had brightly mottled the mossy rocks, Jackson Pollock like. Green globes popped through glittering gold.
40 minutes later we arrived at the end of this highly protected gorge sanctuary, and the beginning of a more accessible state park. A wooden footbridge finally spanned the creek.
All along this hike, the other side had remained aloof, allowing only eyes to visit, not feet. It slid by along with us, parallel to our path, matching scene for scene, but in a version without people. It was the movie remake of our hike, where the narrator along with the cast and crew remains invisible. Now we could cross over into that virgin plot.
We crossed the bridge onto the dappled stage of the leafy hall and headed a few yards up a new path. We stood there a few moments taking in the scene.
My brain stopped jabbering. I looked up. A few huge leaves fell from one of the many large sycamore trees overlooking the stream. I caught one with my eye and rode it silently as it flipped and danced with me. Momentarily, I was empty of wondering, striving or searching. The leaf landed gently down into the stream. As it floated away, I realized I had been in a foggy bubble dream all day, and the bubble had just popped.
A deeper sense of the earth held me gently as we strolled back along this sunken cathedral and back to our daily pecking lives. The fog of my cotton candy bright colored chewing gum brain had faded and cleared. Now I wanted ice cream. So that’s what we did.