January 21, 2009
By Shad Payne-Meyer, Putney, VT

I hate Sundays. This particular Sunday was no different than the rest. As a surly eighth grader, I had nothing positive on my mind for this late fall morning.

Lying back in my bed, I thought of all the disasters today was going to bring: homework, chores, absolutely nothing fun. I wished I could pick up the remote controller for life and press the fast forward button to next Friday.

Drooping over my soggy Honey Bunches of Oats, I gazed dismally out the window off into the distance. A row of mountains rose up in my view, with a colorful tinge, as some of the trees still had their foliage left. Off, behind the other mountains sat Mount Monadnock. Of little importance to me yet, I barely gave thought to the mountain.

Coming over to my chair, my mom started to massage my lumpy shoulders.
“Morning, you grumpy-face. How do you feel about a hike today?” Her upbeat demeanor contrasted by foul mood. Why must everyone ruin my peace? I griped to myself.
Still putting on my early morning slouch, I questioned, “Yeah, whatever. Where might this hike be?” An almost imperceptible glimmer shone in my mom’s eyes as she responded,
“How about Mount Monadnock? You’ve never been, Shad, have you?”
“No, and why should I?”
“Everyone else is going. It’s going to be lots of fun!”
“Yeah, I’ll bet.” Pondering, I tried to come up with something more worthwhile. Hell, it was a Sunday. Nothing ever happens.

“Alright, I guess I’ll do it,” I conceded.

Loading up the Honda, we squished my two brothers, my little brother’s friend, my mom, and I into the car, and embarked on our journey. My mood had brightened with the thought of doing something possibly interesting today, but was quickly vanquished after sitting between my little brother and his friend for a few miles. Seeming to think it was funny to pull my leg hairs out, my little brother chuckled. In the middle of contemplating how to throw him out the window, my older brother brought out the portable DVD player. “Dumb and Dumber!” he laughed. Lloyd and Harry’s stupidity kept the ride light on the way over, and I was actually starting to lighten up.

Stepping foot onto the gravely parking lot, I glanced around the wooded area. We had decided to take the white cross trail, as it was known for its views, and not its crowded paths. At the trailhead, I tried to get a glimpse as to how long this hike was going to be. Walking by me, my older brother Oakley said, “Oh yeah. It’s a ways up.” Well, I figured, It’s probably better than doing homework, and set off up the mountain.

The path had a well-worn, smooth feel to it. The footsteps of hundreds to thousands of people had formed it, yet it still retained its natural feel. A colorful layer of leaves coated the path; recently fell from the surrounding wood. Still, it was almost impossible to see up through the densely packed trees. I drew in deep breathes of crisp, fresh air, filling my lungs with natural refreshment. My eyes began to open, and my shoulders started to lift. My nose gave in, and stopped its sniffling. With a slight bounce in my step, I worked my way up the now steepening path.

On my way up, I encountered many awe-inspiring sights. Scenic settings of color-laden trees among of smooth, rocky floor gave a comfortable feel. Looking back down, the fields and woods of nearby land spread out below. Pushing on, I started to feel my ears becoming pink. Trees were now becoming scarce, and the wind stronger. I had to bring out my pair of gloves which my mom had convinced me into bringing along.

After about an hour of hiking, we came to a stop behind a large rock to shield the wind. A beautiful view spanned out below us. Rolling foothills of wooded forests, and shimmering lakes were visible. Almost a 2/3 view came into sight. Mesmerized by all the natural beauty to take in, I had to stare for a minute. Intrigued by what more the top had to offer, I got up, and pressed on forwards to the summit.

Now the trees had completely gone, and only a rare shrub was left. Covering my pink ears with my gloves, I looked up ahead. Excitement drew about me as I finally saw the peak of the mountain, a distance off among a crop of large rock formations. The tingling burn in my legs, and the puffing breaths of my lungs had not been wasted. Setting off with new aspire, I reached for the top. Except for it kept seeming to get further and further away. Feeling like a race dog chasing a metal rabbit, I kept moving. And, with a final triumph, I reached the top.

With my own sense of pride, I gave an accomplished smile. Then, I gazed around at all the other people on top of the peak. Little children, old women, even a man who had to carry two walking poles for his braced knees meandered around. It was a little bit of a killjoy knowing my supposed victory was no grand feat, yet I wouldn’t let it ruin my Sunday.

Standing on top of a rock, I had a 360 degree view of all the land spread out below us. The land spanned from the wooded forests, and mountainous landscape of New Hampshire, across the Connecticut into Vermont, and stretched all the way past Vermont Yankee into Massachusetts. It was a truly breathtaking view.

There, on top of my rock in Monadnock, I gained a new respect for nature. Of course, I had heard all the talk of “going green”, and the importance of saving nature. Growing up in Vermont, though, natural beauty is right outside our doors, and can easily be taken for granted. Now, seeing the full greatness of the environment, I really began to care about saving this earth.

Sundays are still the worst day of the week, and always will be. But since then, my eyes have changed in the way they look at this world around me, just from that late fall afternoon.

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