Monday, July 18, 2011

Come Away WIth Me

by Kathleen Bradean

In grade school, my best friend and I imagined walking through a waterfall into a hidden land where we created our new Eden. We spent hours discussing the details of the world. Horses, yes. Parents, not so much. Since we were studying our state's history at the time, mostly the Trail of Tears and plains tribes, we had a lot of pseudo native American feel to our Eden.

As I grew older, I hiked and camped a lot. We'd come around a bend in the trail, and a hillside of bright yellow aspen would sweep below us in one of those grand vistas that only seem to happen in the Rocky Mountains. Far below, a mountain stream gushed over boulders. The sky, oh the sky. Why is it bigger outside cities? Why is the blue so intense that you can't look at it for more than a few moments? It made me wonder if there's a patch of earth no human foot has ever touched, some hidden waterfall that no one else has ever seen. I'm not sure I'd want to be the first though. Wouldn't it be nice if something could stay pristine and hidden forever?

Later, the lush forests of the Appalachians and the wide valleys of the Smokey Mountains added their siren's call to my soul. I'm almost afraid to hike into the mossy old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, because every picture I've seen of it makes me ache. It's the green, I think. Nothing humans create is ever that kind of spirit-cleansing green. Trees, mountains, streams - the combination is irresistible to me. I could lie on the ground so the scent of the soil fills my nose and pull the night sky over me like a blanket. Come Away With Me, Nora Jones croons, and I know where I'd head.

This is withdrawing from the world, finding it too much and deciding to give it up. But there's another side, because in all these fantasies, I've gathered my friends in this magical spot so that we can be community. Friends talk, half joking, half wistfully, about finding a retreat where we can just write and be creative and sit on the porch in the evening to talk. I even suggested buying a small town on EBay, pretending to be a weird religious cult (to draw tourists. We have to make a living after all. But not a real religious cult, because controlling other people cuts into my writing time.), opening a goat cheese store (among other handcrafts. We're using the Amish as our business model.), and wearing matching outfits (in the Star Trek "Everyone on this planet made their clothes from the same three bolts of cloth" tradition). Horse drawn carts are optional. I'd have to figure out how to disguise our WiFi and satellite TV though so we look convincingly old timey (or is that Olde Timey? Random Es on the ends of words are often good enough for tourists).

My "let's buy a town on EBay" thread was the longest one I ever started on FaceBook. Everyone wanted to come away with us, not just writers and artists. I'd welcome them all. Look at the sky, I'd invite them. Drink in the green until you can feel it in your cells. Smell the earth and the plants, the verdant growth and even the decay because they were never meant to be separate. Take my hand, run away with me. There's something I want to share with you.


  1. Something about your post reminded me of Monte Verde in Costa Rica. It's an indescribably gorgeous "cloud forest" at the top of a mountain. There at the top, there's a small community of Quakers who fled from the U.S. to Costa Rica because that country abolished their army about forty years ago. They survive by tourism and making cheese. Definitely a magical place!

    Anyway - can I come too?

  2. How are your cheese-making skills? ;)

  3. Oh, Kathleen! I want to go to your olde timey town! What a cool idea... buy a town on Ebay. Sigh... and I thought want to buy a beach house and rent it as a writers' retreat was a lofty goal! I love this.

  4. Kristina - we're gonna need a bigger town. But that's okay. We'll scootch a bit closer and make room for you.

  5. I'd be sure to visit but I'm a New York City Girl at heart. Quiet makes me nervous.

  6. Your town sounds delightful, Kathleen. Your description & image help explain a lot of the appeal fo the movie Avatar. :)

  7. D.L. You know I'd last two weeks, but it's nice to think I could make it work.

    Jean - I think a lot of people want to escape. I think all of human migration comes from getting fed up with the rest of the group and going five miles down the road to start grumpyville.


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