Friday, September 14, 2001
Carlisle Comments Comfort in Carlisle
Please, I beg. Please let things feel normal again, just for a little while.
It is Wednesday morning, and we have all woken up to discover that the terrorist attack was not just a bad dream. Everything has started again, the onslaught of unimaginable images, stories, questions and uncertainty. For just a while, I yearn for a rest from the informational and emotional overload. Unable to accomplish anything in my home office anyway (everything I was working on seems so insignificant), I jump onto my bike to flee into the beauty of Carlisle.
The sky is as crystal clear as it can be, a deep impossible blue, and the air is cool and fresh. But I am not easily soothed. My mind races even as my legs pump to carry me up and down the local hills. I think of frightened e-mails and tearful phone calls sent and received: "Please let us know you're okay." My closest circle appears to be safe, but as the circle widens, it bumps against tragedy. A church member was on one of the doomed flights. A co-worker of my husband was at the World Trade Center. A friend's family member lives within blocks of the New York attack.
I ride through the State Park and observe that I am not alone. Other bicyclists are out today, along with hikers and dog-walkers. No doubt they also seek solace, an oasis of normalcy in a world that seems bent toward chaos. And they, like me, have found that Carlisle is still beautiful, calm and quiet. Chipmunks dart in front of my bike, squirrels chatter, birds sing. None of our human torment matters to them as they go about their business as usual. Right now and in this place, they seem to say, all is safe.
I pass a field of stubby corn stalks, past trees bearing the first florescent orange of autumn, a cluster of late summer flowers. At the canoe launch, I stop to view the perfect mirror image of pines and sky in the glassy water. Occasionally a bubble rises to the surface or an insect touches down, sending out ever-widening concentric circles. I try to refrain from pondering any greater symbolism, at least for now.
Almost home, I notice old, lichen-covered rocks that have stood for centuries, and allow myself to feel protected by the tall pine sentinels that line and shade the road.
Having exercised some of the anxiety and fear out of my system, I return home tired but renewed. Nothing has changed, yet somehow I feel just a little bit stronger, a bit more able to face whatever comes next. Because of this place.
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