Thursday, February 07, 2008

On a Red Rock Cliff

By Nichole Giles

The air was unusually cold for an evening in early February, but it was warmer by far than the place we’d left behind. I held my arms close to my body and fastened another button on my jacket as my children scaled the red rock formations that dominated the surrounding landscape.

Madi picked up a palm-sized piece of the beautiful rock. “Mom, is this sandstone?”

“Yes, Madi, I think it is.”

We examined the stone while she debated whether or not this was the perfect piece of sandstone to take back to her teacher. Upon hearing that Madi was going to take a rock home, my son Mckay decided that he was also going to find a perfect rock. While the two of them scoured the area, my other two kids continued climbing.

I was dividing my gaze between my two youngest and my two oldest children when something caught my eye. Not far away, the rocks stacked up and formed a natural tower, on which was perched a lone figure. Her long hair waved gently in the evening breeze as she scribbled furiously in the notebook on her lap. As I watched, her pen went still and she looked out over the city, her gaze sweeping far and wide for several minutes before she looked back to her notebook and began writing again.

I should do that, I thought. Take a notebook and a pen and find a beautiful, solitary place that might inspire me to pour out beautiful musings on a piece of paper.

Then I remembered my kids, and my husband who stood near me, and knew that it wasn’t possible during this trip. As we finished our excursion and went to get some dinner, I couldn’t stop thinking about that solitary woman and the peace I’d seen in her eyes as she sat alone on a red rock cliff and wrote whatever words came into her mind.

I’ve felt that way before, many times. I remember having that feeling as I stared at the endless ocean while its waves crashed to the shore. As I witnessed geysers erupting from somewhere deep within the earth, and animal life wandering aimlessly near the side of a road in Wyoming. I’ve had that feeling as I stared at the mountains in the fall, and the sunset in the summertime, and down through crystal-clear pure, blue water and into a completely different world below the surface.

I will never stop being amazed and inspired by the many beautiful things in our world. So I write them. Most days, it doesn’t matter if the words will never be published. It would be sinful for me to keep those things to myself, to not share—or at least record—that feeling.

Our weekend getaway ended the next day. As we drove out of town, I decided that someday, I’m going to go back to those cliffs with a notebook and pen, when I can sit and write in solitude for just a little while and have a taste of what it’s like to create something wonderful in such beautiful surroundings.

We came home to piles and piles of fresh white snow. And I complained because it’s cold and wet and icy, and those are my least favorite weather conditions. But then I looked up, and saw snow covered mountains and low, dark clouds. And I remembered that there is beauty in all things—even the frustrating cold things—if only I take the time to look.

Granted, I won’t be climbing that mountain and sitting alone to write in the snow. That’s something I can’t imagine myself doing. But I can sit in my warm house, with a thick, soft blanket and a cup of warm cider (or hot chocolate) and write on my computer as I stare out at the soft white flakes that keep falling and falling and falling. And I can be glad for the inspiration that comes to me every single day. Even though I can’t always see it through the snow.


Tristi Pinkston said...


Nichole Giles said...

Thanks Tristi.


Keith Fisher said...

I agree. it is beautiful. like an olive branch to a writer. we have all been there, but you describe it so well

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks Keith! I'm glad you liked it.


Dan and Wendy said...

I love taking my laptop with me when I go camping (camping being defined as staying in a cabin with running water and electricity in southern Utah...) Anyway, I always feel more creative when I'm closer to nature, and I have the chance to let my thoughts run along with the wind through the trees.

Thanks for sharing.

Nichole Giles said...

Dan and Wendy,
We seem to think alike in the camping department. Only I camp in a fully functional camp trailer instead of a cabin. Not quite as roomy, but can be set up just about anywhere we want to go.

And yes, I always bring my laptop.