By Lopa Banerjee
“It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of nature I was ever permitted to enter.” –John Muir.
At the mighty Yosemite, our car follows the stretch of azure mountains, the alpine tree line, the discreet pastoral palette like a stranger. Nature’s bounty seems a daily allowance amidst the beautiful, virgin, unspoiled mountain terrains. For a day, I am a weightless bubble dropped on this bed of endless green and wilderness. At close intervals, we bring our urban bodies out of the car, into the vast expanse of the park. We set our feet on the trails, take in the unsoiled mountain air, look with sustained awe at the frozen fractals of snow dispersed in the mountain peaks. On our way, nature blushes like a maiden amidst the trees burnt away in wildfire, amidst self-guided trails around quaint valleys, ridges, and slopes. The trails lead us to higher elevations, to short, steep jaunts as we face the mystery of gorges, canyons, and cascading waterfalls.
Through the car window, my eyes feast on the scenic highway running through the heart of the park, traversing north and south, east and west through uncharted miles. My senses surrender to the myriad stunning overlooks. For mile after mile, my eyes are trapped in this shrine of spectral hues, as my mind takes in the huge canvas of granite cliffs, the deep tranquility of the valleys, meadows, the inviting quiet of the glaciers, and giant sequoia trees. Solitude is embedded in the landscape, kissing the wild flowers nestled in the foothills, the sunlight that buries its head amid the ashen mountain domes. Solitude walks hand in hand, is lost in the rustle of the woods along with the herd of onlookers hiking, taking pictures, heading from one vista to the other with kids and backpacks, the mystery of unknown things crunching under their feet.
We climb up and down the bumps and ridges, our heads swaying with the winding mountain trail, as I try to look deep down the gorges, striving to understand how Mother Nature carved out the land, how the canyons, the waterfalls, the massive valleys sing of the infinite, spreading the aura of their silence till the farthest horizon. The land—untamed, mysterious, holds secrets. It nurtures in its fertile womb keepsakes to be revealed in time, some, never to be revealed at all.
The truth of stone and rock formations, the truth of vegetation and elemental nature, the truth of the whirlpool of clouds hovering over the mountain peaks, the truth of water, stone and wilderness blink quietly between the green pastoral valleys. The truth, a singular beam of light, embraces the granite cliffs, the deep, dark foreboding of the canyons, meandering through the picture postcard trails, the scenic, wild rivulets and streams, to the home of the red earth. I unbutton myself at the foothills, being one with the sacred, blue sky, giving in to the bone-deep echoes of the wild mountain song, seeing the bounty of love, a rainbow curved down between earth and the fathomless sky. I smell the stony air and silence. I am seeped in this older part of the earth, my being dissolved, sky to ground, between the fragmented hallelujahs of the mountains.
I look at the steep movement between the mountains, the soft, sensuous light trailing through the silvery mountain bends. I read their curves, bends and slopes like books of sonnets and stories, tracing each page in its sacred solidarity, as the curved landscapes ramble, roam, and converge with each other like enchanted lyrics.
I watch the canopy of waterfalls as the sun casts its resplendent rays upon us, as we share this little moment, this fragment of the infinity. I drown in the depth of the water cascading over the rocks, with multitudes of bubbles forming and dying, wanting, wishing, never to surface again. I watch the waterfall gushing, like tender, unseen heartbeats, rushing to touch, to melt, to swim towards light, to start over, to be reborn. In this world bathed with the deep indigo sky, with the light from a golden sun, my soul glows with surrender and love. I give myself away completely to this wordless moment of synergy. The stained words of the human world fade away like shadows waning. I am the bedazzled spectator of nature’s endless romance, the bubbles of the water dancing away like delicious dreams, like smoldering embers of love. I drift into the midst of the sublime, my heart and soul trailing their every move, penetrating their essence.
I look, bedazzled, at the beauty of the water gushing from this garden of God. Fluttering, floating in front of my eyes like ecstasy wings, the lingering streams meander through the mountain depths, seeking shelter in the boundless green below, where the Universe breathes. The fall of the cascade, a frenzied tumbling, rushing with uninhibited force to kiss the earth, fills me with rhythm and hope. Hope is this warm whisper of the upstream dance, melting downwards in the shallow shade of the trees. Hope is this careless day of late spring drifting slowly, magically over my senses and being, as the sun glides through the skin of the mystic mountain slopes. Hope runs, swirls across the painted sky at dusk, hope rests at the feet snuggled in the green foothills, as I take a deep breath and inhale nature’s indulgent, sweet succulence. I am a pensive accomplice of this moment of Nirvana, my soul savoring this glimpse of divinity.
Love is written here, in the traversing motion of this splashdown, in the transient glory of this moment, which will soon vanish under the spell and exasperating traffic of busy city roads. In this instant, my roots run deeper into the cry of this rushing stillness, deeper than I can fathom. In this instant, I try and seize myself up aloft in the urgency of the moment, in its steadfast calm, transcending all humanity.
Lopa Banerjee is a freelance writer, poet, and mother of two beautiful girls. She is also in her final year of studying creative nonfiction writing at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. She has just completed her memoir, a book-length collection of personal essays and stories on her childhood and her internal journey titled, Thwarted Escape: A Journey of Migrant Trails and Returns. Her poetry, essays, articles, and book reviews have appeared and are forthcoming at Prairie Fire, 13th Floor Magazine, Fine Lines, Yahoo Voices, The Mind Creative, Incredible Women of India, and Ampersand Review.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issues of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Inland Labor Migration in India” (Edited by Soma Chatterjee, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada) & “Debating the Disability Law in India” (Edited by Nandini Ghosh, IDSK, Kolkata & Shilpaa Anand, MANUU, Hyderabad).