By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Fall is my favorite season. After all, it’s the time of year when you can get a Pumpkin Spiced Latte at Starbucks and Costco offers their manhole-sized pumpkin pies. This year Dairy Queen in entering the fray by offering a dessert consisting of vanilla ice cream, bits of pumpkin pie, topped with nutmeg and whipped cream. No wonder I gain weight every October. I come by my love of fall naturally – 20 years ago I had my colors analyzed and it was determined I’m a “Autumn”, meaning I look best in the colors found this season. But mostly I love this time of year because this is when we make our annual trek up to Sun Valley, Idaho where the air is fresh and the leaves are turning. And, not by coincidence, the kids are back in school so it is also quiet.
There is something very peaceful about being in the mountains. I’ve read some recent articles about how people who reside in the mountains live longer. The research indicates that it’s because of cleaner air, more outdoor activity, and increased aerobic function due to the altitude. I don’t know about all that – I suppose if the researchers say it then it must be true. But this week as we drove up to Redfish Lake, near Stanley, Idaho, I thought back to a study that I read years ago. I have searched the internet to find it again but it’s probably too old even for Google’s capabilities. The essence of the thesis was this: people who reside in the mountains live longer because they see themselves in perspective. It went on to theorize that it is hard to take our human problems and even our very existence too seriously when staring at the magnificence of high-peaked mountains. In other words, when we view ourselves in relation to nature we gain a greater realization that we are only a small cog in a much larger scheme.
That feeling has certainly been forefront in our trip this year. We have marveled at the vibrant colors of leaves turning and the first dusting of snow on top of Mount Baldy. When we are outdoors experiencing this magical place, it seems as if all is right with the world. When we drove home from Redfish Lake the other day, with no satellite radio and no cell service, we had only the glorious scenery, the Salmon River and some antelope to occupy our thoughts. We were both filled with an overwhelming feeling of peace. But then, as we returned to “civilization” reality crashed down on us. A basket full of deplorable candidates for President, racial strife across the country and more terrorist attacks. I certainly don’t have the first clue as to what the cure is for our collective problems. All I do know is that John Denver had it right when he wrote the following lyrics:
“Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake”
We’ll be leaving Sun Valley this week and I will miss this beautiful place more than ever. Am I escaping reality here? Probably. I am just sorry that the whole world cannot feel the peacefulness of the mountains. God knows we need it.