After spending three days in Atlanta, I am glad to return to my serene mountain home. Atlanta is beautiful in the spring, but it is a pampered, manicured, cultured beauty and my tastes, after living in the mountains for more than twenty-five years, run more towards the wild, sprawling, untamed kind. The neighborhood streets where my sister lives are tree and flower lined and I admire the majestic oaks that guard the sidewalks and doorways. Unlike the crowds of trees that march up and down my hills, these don’t have to compete for space, so their crowns are huge clouds of leaves and limbs, like the hoopskirts of a southern belle. I wanted to hug one of the largest trees on my sister’s block but it was in a stranger’s front yard, so I refrained. Yes, Atlanta’s trees are definitely one of her treasures.
But, I missed the gentle swells of my mountains. I missed long grass bowing before a spring blow. I missed daisies that sparkle beside the narrow roads and long views of nothing but cows, mountains, trees and grass. I missed beauty that is not dependent on man’s hand. And I also missed the beauty of the gentle decay of barns and sheds as they sag to the ground from the weight of all those years of work. Most of all I missed the music. Atlanta is all bass drums and trumpets while my mountains are flutes and woodwinds. Bird songs, wind songs, river songs, rain songs, leaf songs, frog songs, bee songs, barnyard songs. All of the smaller sounds survive here.
In Atlanta, I also realized that I am a small pond kind of girl. As talk swirled of vacations taken, days at the pool, accomplishments and awards, I had nothing to add to the conversation. My world is narrower and defined by the edges of the mountains around me. So was my children’s. They participated in sports and activities, but the distances meant there were limits to what they could choose. I came home feeling a little melancholy about all the missed opportunities, but as my home-from-college son and I drove the hour it takes to get to the dentist, he put it all in perspective for me. We were talking about his cousin’s upcoming scuba trip when he looked at me and said. “It sounds like a lot of work for some fun. I would much rather grab my gun and walk out into the field for an hour or two of groundhog hunting, or grab a pole and go trout fishing, or camp on our river.” Then he paused for a moment before continuing. “You know mom, all my friends from college were talking about what they were going to do or where they were going for the summer, but all I wanted to do was come home.” I guess Dorothy had it right. After the excitement of Oz, there really is “no place like home.”