Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Climb Ev'ry Large Rock

Denzil Pugh is climbing a mountain. Why is he climbing a mountain? I've been walking trails for a year or so now, through the forests, through spider webs and around snakes and across rivers. The trails have taken me towards granite boulders that sit on the sides of hills, growing moss, collecting leaves. I've climbed hills and looked out over the next horizon and seen Stone Mountain in the distance. And the roads have curved through and exited Rockdale County into Dekalb, until my next walk took me to the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve The experience I had there, at the foot of the monadnocks (large, single rocks, like Stone Mountain), was similar to the beginning of my travels at the South Rockdale Community Park.  Coming out of the forest, following the path, I saw massive power lines stretching to the horizon.  Constructs of steel, electricity, power... how awesome it was, to see what man had built to run every aspects of our lives.  Reaching the end of the forest around Bradley Mountain (I parked at the southern end of the area, near the AWARE wildlife area, and followed the rock cairns), I saw a vast expanse of rock sloping upwards, many feet high, with those cairns like pimples spotting the landscape.  In the same way that man created the power lines, so did God create these monoliths of granite, providing evidence of His power, as well as his generosity.  The rock here, called Tidal Grey, is sought after for building countertops...etc...  It becomes the rock, the clay, as it were, that man creates his own world.  In a sense, he is emulating his Creator.  

So I climbed up Bradley Mountain, following the cairns, stopping frequently to catch my breath, as I'm not in the best of shape, but eventually, I reached the last cairn, and the top of the massive rock.  Having never been on top of a mountain before, it was a totally new experience.  Out across the horizon, I could see the tops of the skyscrapers in Atlanta, and Water Towers as reservoirs for the communities hidden in the trees.  The wind blew, and high above me, hawks or buzzards circled in currents high above the rock, looking for an easy meal.  I felt much like the Traveller in Caspar David Friedrich's  "A Traveller Upon a Sea of Mist." It gave me satisfaction, confidence.  I think climbing this mountain, or one like it, is something everyone should do, just to have the experience.  I will most definitely do it again. 

I tied two references to this blog at the top.  First, Mother Superior singing "Climb Every Mountain" from The Sound of Music, which combines the actual mountains of the Alps with the metaphors of life as a mountain.  And while I could go on for pages looking at this very obvious image, used by most every author that had a mountain in their works, I won't.  Because William Shatner did it so much better.  In his interview for Star Trek V, Shatner describes the second scene of the movie, which has Captain Kirk climbing a mountain in Yosemite National Park. He attempts a rationalization of the scene, using the mountain as metaphor, and does a great job of it, no
matter what the other people commenting on the Youtube video say.  It is man conquering nature, God, if you want to go that far (which, obviously, is the theme of that movie, with Kirk going to a world that housed "God," which turns out to be a malicious alien, which the Enterprise fires upon.)

However, I don't think the idea of climbing Bradley Mountain is analogous to destroying God. Rather, I think seeing nature in its full beauty at the top, in all its fragile wonderment, along with the sharp cuts of quarry work, carving out the stone to make the buildings we live in everyday, is a fitting relationship. We both use the stone and then let it stand.  I find the paradox in what I find beautiful about the mountain.  I've seen many pictures of the area--pictures of wildflowers, of the red moss that is unique to the rocks, of the pine trees growing strong and bold from cracks in the rocks themselves--and yes, that is all wonderful.  What I find aesthetically pleasing is the rock itself and what we have done to it and with it.  The cuts, the creations, the water carving out pools and snakes of black upon
slabs of gray.  Probably what I spent most time looking at was the square slab structure made at the far north side of Bradley Mountain on my latest walk around the trails.  Next to the fence that denotes still private property, there is a square structure of granite, solid, held together by metal bolts. Atop it, people have set smaller granite rocks, and on the back, a metal door, which I did not open.  I don't know what it was for, but it was probably made for quarry storage.  What would people, some tens of thousands of years from now, think of it when they find it in a probably now barren planet?  A shrine, a religious construct, an altar? To thank God for the rocks?  Who knows?

If you want to get more information about Arabian Mountain, especially the wildlife and plants, go to Kay's blog here.   She has walked the trails for much longer than I have, and has more knowledge of the ecology there.

I tried, before I left the top of that mountain, to stand as Friedrich's Traveller did, and feel as Howard Roark did at the beginning of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, seeing the hill he was standing on as both itself, the grand beauty of it, and as potential, what he could make of this beauty with his own hands.  We've been given this world by God to construct to glorify Him, but also to make Him proud, to emulate Him, to become creators ourselves.  Let us use this world in that manner, respectfully, adding beauty while preserving it. With reverence as we cut into the stone, with wonder that we are even here to see it.  Let us climb more mountains.

1 comment:

  1. YES! I am so happy that you finally got to Arabia Mountain! It is such an incredible place...it is MILLIONS of years older than Stone Mountain or Panola Mountain, and if you go often enough to all three monadnocks you will notice that in the difference in color and texture between the three!
    Arabia Mountain is such a special, special place...I have no idea how someone could see it and not believe in a Creator!! Wait until you see the pools frozen in the winter or the flowers blooming in the spring! OH! AND make sure you go after a rainfall, the water will drain off on the side going to the lake, and the waterfalls are lovely.
    And MAKE sure you don't step in any of the sand...it's important, they have a sign tellling you not to at the base of the mountain, the seeds from the lovely sandwort depend on it !! (I used to call the sandwort "joyflowers" before I knew what they were called since they gave me so much JOY.)
    Make sure and go to the Nature Center across the street and walk on the trail that takes you across even MORE rock, there is an old jail building there, and keep going and it leads to a lovely lake. You can walk back the same way or go on the trail through the woods which brings you to the boardwalk/trail and then you can take that back to the Nature Center. It's lovely at all times of the year.