Kentucky Rainforest in October

Kentucky Rainforest in October

Oct 17 2017

The fuzzy grey clouds above the trees outside my camper are not moving. I can tell by the rhythm of the crickets chirping that someone has turned nature’s metronome down a notch slower than usual. The air feels like skin temperature and the humidity clings like a damp sock inside a warm shoe. Only the tallest blades of grass surrounding the rusty tractor outside my window are gently twitching with imperceptible breath. Next to the tractor is a stack of three old tires that came with my vintage RV (affectionately known as The Squire), slightly muddy from me rolling them into position through the mud after several days of rain. I am imagining the climbers all over the Gorge today, pawing at slick rock, feet slipping off unexpectedly. All of us wondering about the promise of crisp fall days and grippy sandstone. I am grateful to notice the intricate branches of a lichen-covered dead tree. Its white-gray lines become more visible as the evening shadows swallow the day’s light into the dark green boughs of the hemlock behind it. I am grateful to not be climbing right now. I feel comforted by the yellow leaves of the maple, the hemlock’s neighbor, and the weight of my fingers as they type on my keyboard, instead of feeling my heart pounding as I decide which hold to grab or which foot to use and feeling the omnipresent fear of falling. In the luxury of this stillness, I ask myself...

What have I learned in my six months in the Red River Gorge?
How do I like living outside?
Do I still want to live in an ashram?
Is it possible to start an ashram here?
Since it seems likely that I will live for another journey around the sun, what would I do differently next time around?
What am I most grateful for?
What have I learned about myself?
What do I most need to move forward in my life?
What can I most contribute to this family of climbers, these people I love?
Why do questions feel better than answers right now?
What if this post were only questions?
What am I most looking for right now?
Has my heart healed since I have been here?
Is it truly OK with me that my “ashram” vision really ended up being just a vision and not a reality?
Is it OK to continue to rest in the passiveness of simply repeating these climbing-focused days?
Is it possible to find more rock climbs like “All Things Considered”, where the rock choreographs movements that feel downright sexy with power, precision and play?
Is it possible to find that kind of experience more often, on less “exceptional” climbs?
Is it possible for a rock climb to change my life?
Why is it so much fun to fall in love with rock climbs?
Is there a vibrational difference between softer Corbin Sandstone (Red River Gorge) and harder Nuttall Sandstone (New River Gorge), in terms of how we relate to it, and maybe communicate with it?
Or maybe between sedimentary and metamorphic or igneous rock?

I startle and check to see if the power has gone off because it is suddenly dark in the Squire. But I realize that no lights were turned on or off; rain has started to fall and clouds have arrived. Wind is now blowing leaves off the trees, carrying maple helicopters all the way across the field and rattling my propped open door.

Photo credit: Lu Anne Tyrrell