No better place in the heat of August than on a mountaintop in West By-God (that’s West Virginia, perchance you didn’t know). Last weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Snowshoe for their annual Symphony Weekend.
Allow me first to say that that not only is a mountaintop the best place to chill out in August, but August is likewise the best time to visit an erstwhile ski resort. Winter sports never agreed with me—I’m all knees and elbows and on my one attempt to learn to ski, my instructor actually requested that I never endanger their slopes again. I happily took his advice.
But the mountains! Oh! And the music! Oh oh!
Two full-length performances featuring the West Virginia Symphony, an incredible ensemble, a wonderful selection of music, I was beside myself. And when we weren’t being bowled over by the sounds of Elgar and Byron Adams and the lot, we were riding the chair lifts down wildflower bespeckled mountainsides, picnicking by the lake, and enjoying some well-deserved rest.
To top it all, an encounter with a black bear in the parking area, and deer everywhere! Now yes, I’m admittedly a treehugging dirtworshipper, and I have a ridiculous love for all dem critters great and small. These two species in particular have always held a place of magic and reverence in me. So I find myself out on the back porch of our little cottage, a doe and two fawns grazing far down the lawn. The doe makes her way in our direction, stopping to graze occasionally, and though I originally thought she just hadn’t seen us, she is clearly looking right at us as she approaches. She ended up about three feet from where I sat on the steps, so close I could see her breathe and smell the forest musk on her hide, hear her munching the lawn. Eventually her fawns came bounding over and they all moved on (mothers seem to think I’ll be a bad influence on their chilluns, in general), but I was breathless and dazzled with the encounter.
I’ve always gotten stupid around animals. There’s a great xkcd cartoon about it, actually. When I was a wee lass (still all knees and elbows, just on a smaller scale), I used to listen to the Disney recordings of various and sundry children’s stories, and somewhere along the way I conflated that Snow White’s secret in winning over her forest friends was in whistling sweetly and holding a finger out for the birdies to sit upon. Perhaps I felt a sympathy with our common complexion. Regardless, here am I, in full oversized dress-up regalia at age 5, attempting to whistle something vaguely reminiscent of a ditty, and chasing birds in the yard, thrusting my demurely-extended finger at them in frustrated crescendo. Poor traumatized birdies.
I like to think that my understanding of human/animal interaction has evolved. But the enthusiasm remains.