It is now 1907 hours, per the Chromebook. We are now settling into the tent for the first of our three nights here, at campsite 14, in Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina. This is our second visit to Hanging Rock. We visited last October, for 3 nights. As a result, I’m less stressed being here this year than I was last year.
It’s an autistic thing. No. Really. It is. As much as I like to explore new places, the act of exploring them places me under a ton of stress. Because I’m in an unfamiliar environment, which means I don’t know what can happen, how to respond to whatever does happen, how to behave in a social situation in the new environment.
Yeah, yeah. I know. Everybody knows how to behave in any given setting, and can figure it out by observing body language, tone of voice, eye signals, and all the other forms of unspoken communication people have, and use.
Autistic. Remember? That means I don’t pick up on those very things. Yep. Look at me like I’m out of my mind, and I very likely won’t notice.
So, being here a second time means I am less stressed this trip. Because I have some experience in this environment, and some frame of reference to draw from. And that’s a good thing. It means I’ll have more fun, and take more pictures, and experiment more with my camera this trip.
Now…. Now, I want to change the rules, and do something I know how to do. Capture a dream, a feeling, a moment, and put it on paper.
This afternoon, after we set up the tent, we hopped in the xB, and drove to the Lower Cascades Water Fall of the park. The fall is beautiful. What waterfall isn’t? The top is next to a rock face nearly as tall as the fall. At the base of that rock face where the water pulls away, heading toward the cascade, lies a moss and fern garden that could only grow in such a place, partly shielded from the sun, and receiving all the water it needs from the fall. The water plummets down the fall, into a cove. The water of the cove is calm, almost still. You can watch the ripples of leaves as they fall from the trees, trace the paths of the water bugs, as they flit about on its surface. Beside the waterfall, and the cove is an ancient rock face, laced with cracks, nooks, crannies, and holes. Trees, flowers, weeds, grasses, mosses, and lichen grow from the cracks, bringing splashes of green to the somber gray of the rock.
You would love to see it. No picture can ever do it justice.
We took pictures, of course. Lots of pictures. I experimented with camera settings, trying to shorten the exposure time so I could take a picture without the blur of moving the camera. After I finished playing with my camera, I decided to try something different. I turned off my camera, and took the time to experience the place.
The colors, so many shades of green in the trees, grasses, mosses, leaves. splashes of white flowers accenting the scene here and there. The glistening wet rock of the fall. The clarity of the water. The roots of trees, spread on the ground, looking for ways into and through the rock.
The sounds of the fall, of its echo of the rock face in the cove, of the cascades to the far side of the cove. How they washed away the sounds of city life. No cars, no horns, no machines, no phones. Just the sounds of water flowing over rocks.
Then, the rock itself. I closed my eyes, and felt it. Not cold, and unfeeling. Old. Ancient. It was there before humans existed. It will be there after we’re all gone. It has seen so much. It has been there so long.
As I have been known to say, every once in a while. Close your eyes and dream.
Close your eyes and dream.