Expressive 2010 2nd Place
Professor: Dr. James Aton
There are many places in this word that hold great beauty and big names. Their trails are well paved by the frequent footsteps, and their images are burned into the minds of thousands. To me, none of these can compare to my favorite place.
I jump onto the four-wheeler and turn the key as the engine shrieks so loudly that it overcomes all the other sounds around me. The golden sun is still high and peering through the clouds, so I am in no rush as I thoughtfully move up the curved road to the simple field behind my house. The tread of my tires move from the hard asphalt to the soft settled dirt of the trail, and my cares begin to fade into the wide-open space around me. I begin to pick up speed on the long dirt road. The dust takes life as is chokes the air behind me, and it buries the past in its thick cloud. I drive through the thick sage brush as the locus hum their song of welcoming from the stubby cedars that out-line the trail in small, sparse groups. The trees and the shrubbery tighten into thick bunches the deeper I travel. The trail seems to be springing in new life as blades of soft green grass stick out of the light brown dirt. The once obvious trail fades into the natural life around it, and my human mind tells me to turn around.
Just ahead, I see an upward slope of lava rock. Its shiny surface reminds me of black diamonds sticking through the earth with sharp jagged edges. I am up for the challenge they present to me, so I force my four-wheeler up the slope hoping their sharp surface won’t cause any harm to my tires. The engine screams even louder as my thumb tightens on the throttle and drowns out the song of the humming locus. When I reach the top of the shimmering black hill, I see that the once-dreamy sky has turned very dark. There are small spaces of light that beam through the dark edges of cloud, creating long angelic cylinders in the valley below. Although there is no trail, I make my way down the slender ridge. Soft green grass seeps through the edges of the sharp lava rock beneath my tires, and I know that this is a truly special place.
I stop all movement when I reach a small pad of dirt at the bottom and let the engine rest. For just a moment, all is silent, and the storm of dust from behind clouds around me like a thick haze. The dust slowly sinks back to the earth and the plain, unnamed meadow stands clear. The wind gently sways across the valley, bending the tall grass back and forth in a synchronized sway. Although the wide open meadow is bursting with the color green, it somehow seems thirsty and dry. The blades of grass, like a multitude of people, are all completely different from each other. Some stand tall, some short, and all are unique in color. Though it is all green at first glance, I see many shades. Just green, but then some yellow and tan sick out, and I see the wide variety of browns, golds, and ambers as they sway alongside their colorful friends. Beautiful yellow and orange sun-flowers stand in the midst of tall grass, holding their heads high to the streaks of sun.
It is still quite warm, but seems subject to change at any moment. The dark clouds shadow the ground and leave only small circles of light where the sun tries to break free from their darkness. I stare at the fighting sky as the sun and the dark clouds seem to be at war. The sun tries to find a break in the clouds’ reinforced darkness, but is steeply outnumber by the rolling evil that will soon overpower it. It knows that it will lose, but the sun fights with all its might to keep its dark enemy from littering the earth below with its wet electricity. The wind joins the side of the clouds and ripples the long grassy meadow like the cheer of a thirsty crowd. The bright yellow sun-flowers hold great hope for the sun as they look to it whenever it makes a showing. This gives the sun the power to keep fighting. The sun looks for any loose holes so it can see the faces of its peddled friends below. The wind whistles with excitement as the black clouds close in all gaps and the tall grass bounces with thirst. The bright sunflowers bow their heads in sorrow as their friend loses the fight. Almost in slow motion, the first tiny rain drop comes into focus. My head, still looking upward towards the sky, watches the tiny drop of water fall. It splashes on my face making my eyes blink and flutter back open to what seems like can only be a dream around me.
One by one the drops of clear water fall from the sky but are hardly noticeable as they lightly tap the earth around me. The wind whispers its last words and is almost completely absorbed by the falling rain. I listen to it gently fall and feed the thankful grass. The mountains around the valley seem closer than they are as they stand tall in the distance. The green of the meadow fades into the deep blue of the surrounding peaks and brings a splash of color to the dark evening. The mountains stand strong, but their edges are soft and curvy with the blue pines that cover them. Not a single trace of the sun is now seen through the thick rain clouds, but the landscape is lit up buy the occasional streak of lighting in the far distance. The rain still falls gently and makes the dark clouds run downward from the sky.
Like a wet, watercolor painting, the clouds run from the sky hiding the tops of the mountain in its thick mist. The lightning begins to strike closer and the boom of the thunder shakes the earth. Yellow, blue and purple lights simultaneously zigzag across the sky, pulsing their fury, seeming to draw their lines closer and closer to where I sit frozen in place on my four-wheeler. The closer they get, the louder and more frightening the thunder becomes and the harder the rain falls in the crowd of tall grass below. Like standing in a shower, I have now become completely wet. Streams of water drip off the tips of my nose and chin.
My wet, black hair sticks to my forehead and the sides of my head. As I had suspected, the cool rain has caused the once moderately warm day to send spasms of shivering electricity up and down my spine. I don’t mind the cold as I watch the beautiful light show ripple across the dark sky. The thunder shakes everything around me like the steps of a huge dinosaur closing on its prey. The rain dances across the valley, massaging my shoulders as it rhythmically pounds against me. All of my tensions have disappeared. All of my cares have completely vanished.
As I look around at my unnamed valley I feel at peace with my life and the things going on around me. Nothing seems to matter except for this moment in time. How could anyone be mad, angry, or stressed in such a simple yet magnificent place? Not just any beautiful old place that millions have touched and millions have seen, but a place that is mine. This place, which is untouched by the human hand, has its own story to tell. Many years from now this unnamed place may be altered by the human hand and given a fancy name. To me, it will always be a place to find peace. It will always be my simple unnamed valley.