*For rather a while I have been kicking around the idea of this post which shares a title with a childen's book by Miss Rylant. My kids first read her book in 3rd grade as a warm up to a writing project in which they each shared about the sound, sights, tastes, and memories of their own young lives in the mountains. This weekend we scattered Aunt Bee's ashes at her place in the mountains and I was reminded what a refuge and place of peace it was for me as a child.
When I was young in the mountains I walked along the paths as my grandfather told us stories of the first people to live here.
Now that I am older in the mountains I hike the trails thinking about how many generations came before me, how many may follow, and what those coming after me will or won't find.
When I was young in the mountains we took walks in berry season just to fill our caps with sweet, ripe fruit.
Now that I am older in the mountains the taste of fresh berries brings sweet memories to mind.
When I was young in the mountains I felt very big to be allowed to take the row boat out on the lake by myself.
Now that I am older in the mountains I feel very small when I stand at the water's edge in the shadow of the mountain.
When I was young in the mountains sometimes I was afraid of getting lost in the forest.
Now that I am older in the mountains I steal way among the trees hoping no one will find me for a while.
When I was young in the mountains we laughed and sang, "Hear the lively song of the frogs in yonder pond" after an afternoon of catching frogs, toads, and salamanders.
Now that I am older in the mountains I listen to the chorus of spring peepers early in the spring and the thrum of bullfrogs in the summer. I smile knowing these songs were sung long before I ever came to the mountains and will echo long after I have gone.
When I was young in the mountains I found the shady glen on a hot summer day. The ground was covered in moss and ferns which muffled my steps. The water cooled my toes while I listened to the brook burble over the rocks as I teetered on their tops.
Now that I am older in the mountains the ferns beckon with their curled fronds, "Come here, for just a few moments. Come be refreshed."
When I was young in the mountains the great boulders stood like silent, ancient guards in the forest watching over me as I ran along the paths others had cut.
Now that I am older in the mountains the boulders whisper to me of their long forced march at the urging of the glaciers. They sigh in their settled positions after so much restless wandering in the wilderness.