During this time of year, I struggle with my surroundings which greatly affects my mood. In summer the hills are covered with vibrant shades of green from the grass to the leaves, autumn brings its own splendor when the hills are ablaze with warm reds and golds as the leaves change. Under the coldness of winter when things are blanketed under snow the Valley I call home is stunningly beautiful. However, in this time of transition when February quietly slips into March it seems raw, gritty and barren.
The mounds of snow have turned gray, in some cases black. Dark cinders and ashes cover the roadways. The fallow hills are visible in every direction, filled with stark brown trees whose outstretched branches appear to be raised to the heavens pleading for warmth and sunshine. The sky hides its true blue coloration behind heavy lingering clouds that for the most part block out the sunlight. The mighty river seems heavy and sluggish, baring the weight of northern towns’ leftovers, spilling over its banks threatening possible damage and destruction with each raindrop that falls into its murky abyss.
All of these combined make my Valley appear drab and dingy. The steel mills rest along the shores of the river like rusty skeletons, shells of their former selves no longer hidden by the usually blooming vegetation creeping along their outer walls that typically soften the rough edges. A constant visible reminder of better days that will likely never return. Even the people themselves seem worn, hard, and cold; their faces lined with worry over lack of jobs and money plaguing our area, or some other unknown personal stress they are carrying with them. The seemingly sterile landscape can’t hide their problems or worries when everything is so resolutely bare.
Occasionally I’ll spy a red or blue bird, their color decisively noticeable against the bleak background, or hear a chorus of birds singing in the early hours of morning and it gives me hope. That soon the clouds will dissipate allowing the sun to reach the ground. That lush grass will again grow, that various colored blooms and buds will find their way to the top of the soil, and that warmer air will melt away the last vestiges of a long gray winter season. The longer days give me hope that the people will release some of their tensions, the river will be swiftly moving within its own borders and that I’ll soon see the beauty in my little valley and my heart again.