Last Saturday, I drove North, through pasture lands and up into the heart of the rolling mountain ranges. I stopped at an overlook and got out of the car. Before me spread a grand procession of mountains, peaking and falling, overlapping each other like waves. They stood in profile against a pale blue sky. Sun illuminated the fresh yellow-green leaves covering the mountainsides by the thousands, millions. The wind blustered sharply, tousling my hair. My skirt pressed flat against my side and flapped wildly. I imagined I was standing on the deck of a ship.

Up here, so far away, it is so silent. And through the stillness, one blue-gray note seems to sound from beyond the horizon.

Anne said that there is something healing to the human soul about looking out over an expanse. I stood there and just breathed. The smallness of my daily life – checkbook, shampoo, onions, keyboard, toothpaste, quizzes, steering wheel, band aids, dirty dishes – dimmed, and my mind took in the larger world.

I drove to Anne and Malcolm’s house, which is reached by a dirt road (usually the best houses are at the ends of dirt roads). They live up on a hill, in a quiet and lovely neighborhood, surrounded by meadow, forest, and stream.

Anne and Malcolm are such kind and exuberant friends. They first invited me to stay with them when they hardly knew me. And now, each time I leave, they ask when I will come again.

That night we drove together to the UVA campus and walked through the Jeffersonian brick buildings to Old Cabell Hall. Inside, it is fairly small and round. The room circles up and up to its pinnacle above. Down below, the stage feels close enough to reach out and touch. Behind the stage stands a large copy of Raphael’s School of Athens. Plato points up to the heavens; Aristotle gestures down to the earth.

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