At the Top of the Mountain

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On Sunday we worked. We chopped and we whacked, dragged and raked, swept and gathered. We collected broken glass and rusted nails, busted windows and broken down doors. We hauled rocks and moved trees. We reclaimed land and a structure lost to a mountain buried in time. We sweat and grunted and strained. We saw turtles and salamanders and every species and genus of bug. With my husband and son I am reclaiming my father‘s land, the land on which he'd begun to build a house when I was a child, where we'd made campfires and shot arrows, where we didn't change clothes for days, collecting as much of the earth in our hair as in our pockets. The energy and focus I've never had before is suddenly, miraculously, present in my head and in my hands. I want to reclaim this mountain. I want to reclaim this land.

My grandparents lived at the foot of the mountain they divided among their six children, giving my dad the very top, and I’ve been missing my grandma lately, my grandma whose ashes we scattered in the creek on the trail up to the sky. Wilhelmina Bjornson, Grandma Billie, who brushed out my tangled hair and took me to get a perm. Who washed my filthy corduroys and bought me a blue and white polka dot top and skirt set with matching Mary Jane’s. My grandma who taught me how to make a bed and how to set a table. My grandma who taught me order is possible even when chaos reigns. My mother's house cluttered and packed with things – my mother the artist, my grandma the nurse, both giving me parts of myself I can’t imagine living without. I want to bring peace to that mountain, her mountain, the same peace her mountain brought to me.

Valley HaggardComment