My life is an ordinary one. A life of small things: a backyard where chickens peck in the grass; a small white bed; a classroom with a turquoise wall; a wooden desk; a neighborhood sidewalk; the rolling hills and valleys of the Blue Ridge; a notebook with scribbled lists and scattered lines of poetry; the pages of a book; the faces of students; my old violin; Mom and Dad’s cabin perched on the top of Mason’s Knob; the claw-footed porcelain bathtub; the mop and broom leaning on the wall; my bicycle; a pot of vegetable soup; a letter in the mailbox; a red dress.

When I traveled to the West Coast this summer, things got bigger. We spent several days in Yosemite, a land of vast expanses. There you encounter oceans of sky, towers of bald rock, plummeting waterfalls, and redwoods soaring hundreds of feet into the sky.

And in the face of this grandeur, as you gaze down the white sleek skirt of a waterfall, you feel both terror and serenity.