Sleeping Giant MAG

By James H., No. Haven, CT

     Legs sore, feet weary, blue shoes kicking pebbles, you tread up the Tower Trail slowly. The incline isn’t that steep, but each footstep brings more fatigue, more sweat, more of everything, until you hardly feel anything.

Around you is the peace of the woods. The leaves come together and form planes of green, moving ever so slightly in the cool air of late summer. These calm, frozen seas extend until vision is obscured, and pockets of yellow and red hint at the change - from the infusion of life to its retreat. And in the void where these plains end, an overcast sky forces its way through, giving you soft daylight to work with.

The chilly, fresh breeze that nudges against your cheek carries the songs of birds you’ve heard before but never recognized. And even though your friends, talking about pointless things to pass the time, obscure the peace of your surroundings, the serenity manages to force its way through the jumble of incessant chatter, persistent, undying.

Two climbers scale the cliffs above you, small caves jut out on your right, a thin sheet of water glides down a smooth shale rock. You see them as you ascend the so-called mountain, the 1.6 miles of trail that goes through light and dark places, places with tiny flowers of purple and yellow and white lining the side and standing out against the forest floor. You can feel your legs getting a workout. You know your feet are slipping and getting sore.

But you get there. You enter the tower, climb up the ramps, and make it. You get there, after enduring physical challenge and preparing for what is yet to come. You get there.

New Haven. The skyscrapers are nothing more than tiny black boxes obscured by haze. The squareness of this inch of the horizon defiantly thumbs its nose at the bumps of hills filled with different kinds of trees. But New Haven, looking so far from your vantage point, is unsuccessful in its defiance. The various shades of color on thousands of trees surround you, from the darkest green to the brightest red, from the weakest yellow to the intensity of the virgin green that you thought only the season of life renewed could provide. These colors are more saturated with blue as your gaze fixes on the horizon, seemingly miles away.

Hawks glide above the woods, circling and hovering without moving a muscle, scourging for sustenance. The winds grow colder, and you need to put on your jacket as you finish eating a snack. You then begin your descent. But the trail is narrower, the incline steeper, and the gravel, pebbles, and wet leaves are replaced by rocks jutting from the pathway and patches of mud that appear every so often. You are going back the hard way. Your desire to move forward has caused your feet to place themselves in uncomfortable and unnatural positions, and when the shale rocks get bigger and the going gets steeper, you must use your hands to climb over the mélange of rocks, once almost falling. Almost.

You make it. Your heart is moving too fast to count your pulse. You feel the blood pumping through your ears, your legs and feet indescribably negative, and your head a bit light. But you move on. You can push yourself, because you have done that before. You can take the challenge.

And yet, despite your feet aching from contortions teetering on the edge of injury, despite your head feeling light, despite the sole focus of making sure you don’t hurt yourself, there is one moment you will never forget.

Your feet take you to a clearing, a shale ledge looking north. A few scrawny pine trees jut out, each standing alone against the blurry lines and tints and shades that make up the overcast atmosphere. To your right is the cliff the two climbers scaled, darkened in spots by shadows of trees, and below you is Quinnipiac University, a contrast to the multitude of deciduous trees, conveying its daily humility and serenity to those who listen. The breezes are cold but not incessant, and the hawks are still flying, cutting the air with steady wings, voicing their haunting, austere, unique screeches that travel the breezes, the breezes that cool the skin, and arrive faintly but full of impact to your ears.

And when you see the people standing against the backdrop of the sleeping giant, you feel your soul start to tingle after discovering a new space, a new scene, a new view, all you can do is sit and relax, forget all the problems in life in a positive and beneficial way. You lie on the shale rocks and watch. And listen. And live.

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i love this so much!


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