Mountains and Freedom

I lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. KJV Psalm 121:1

I have always loved mountains. I often wonder where this came from, given I grew up in northeastern Ohio, where barely a hill, and no mountains, are to be found. During my Amish teaching days, when I lived in a little house of my own, I had a calendar picture with the Psalm quoted above, framed and hanging on my wall. I would at times stand in front of that picture and remember what it was like to live in Vermont, surrounded by mountains, for four months. Maybe this is when I began associating mountains with freedom.

Many of the photos I took in the Southwest are of mountains. Oftentimes the photos do not do justice to the vistas we saw. But these photos are at least an attempt at capturing some of what we saw.

I never knew there were such a variety of mountains in the Southwest. From snow-capped peaks to dry desert mountains, to mesas, to craggy mountain tops, we saw a whole variety. Below are some of my photos, often captured through the open window of our rental car. I locate them as closely as I can. The photo above was taken in southern Colorado.

Southern Colorado Photo by Saloma Furlong


Southern Colorado Photo by Saloma Furlong


Southern Colorado Photo by Saloma Furlong


Southern Colorado Photo by Saloma Furlong


Southern Colorado Photo by Saloma Furlong


At a rest area in southern Colorado Photo by Saloma Furlong


Northern New Mexico Photo by Saloma Furlong


And then there were mesas… Northern New Mexico Photo by Saloma Furlong


At mile 117 in New Mexico on I-25 Photo by Saloma Furlong


On our way to Santa Fe in New Mexico Photo by Saloma Furlong


On our way to Santa Fe in New Mexico Photo by Saloma Furlong


San Francisco Peaks outside of Flagstaff, Arizona at Sundown Photo by Saloma Furlong


Another view of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff Photo by Saloma Furlong


Yet another view of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff Photo by Saloma Furlong


Near Prescott, Arizona


Between Prescott and Phoenix, Arizona Photo by Saloma Furlong


Mountains outside Tucson, Arizona Photo by David Furlong


Mountains outside Albuquerque, New Mexico Photo by Saloma Furlong


In the Santa Fe Pass in New Mexico Photo by Saloma Furlong

“The Wild West” as often been considered a place of freedom. There is something about the expansiveness of the landscape that gives one that feeling. During this trip I had to think about the concept of freedom and how much I often take it for granted. I only have to think back to my childhood and young adulthood to remember that gratitude is in order for the freedom I enjoy now. And so I take this moment to be grateful for the opportunity to see another part of our big country, for mountains, and for the freedom I have to live my life as I see fit.

In my next post, I will be describing why I often thought about my father and my mother during this trip.

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11 thoughts on “Mountains and Freedom”

  1. Michele Larson

    I love that quote from psalm 121. It is interesting how you relate freedom with mountains. At the end of the play The Sound of Music, Maria quotes that verse in psalm 121 when they were escaping into the mountains to freedom! I will have to read her book again to see if she said that in real life too.

    Our son lives in Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods is just about in his back yard. We went there a couple of years ago and I loved the climate and the mountains.

    Glad you had a wonderful time and thank you for sharing your pictures with us.

    1. Michele, we didn’t make it to the Garden of the Gods, though we did drive through Colorado Springs.

      Thank you for your comments, and it’s my pleasure to share the photos.

  2. I lived in Colorado for 2 1/2 yrs and it is one of my most favorite states. Love your photo;s.
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    gr. Mary M

  3. I, too, grew up in a flat land. Southeastern Michigan is very flat. So I relish being able to look up from downtown Northampton and see Mt Holyoke. OK, I know it isn’t a mountain like the ones you have in these photos, but it is what I have. From Sunderland could you see Sugarloaf? I particularly like your photos of mountains with visible strata.

    1. Johanna, I miss the mountains in Mass. Yes, we had Sugarloaf in our backyard. You’re right, they aren’t as glamorous as many other mountains, but while I was living there, I felt they were “our” mountains. I also miss the encounters with nature we had there, whether it was an eagle soaring over the Connecticut River, a pair of chipmunks mating under our bird feeder in the spring, siting a rare three-toed woodpecker, or seeing a bunny running for cover when we drove in our driveway at night. And then there were the encounters with a praying mantis, a bear cub, and hearing an owl on our last night in that house.

      I love hearing from you… it reminds me of all the reasons why we loved living in Sunderland. I also have to remind myself of what it was like to live across from the corner store, and hearing the Coke truck’s lift gate being dropped on the ground at 5:30 AM, the numerous trucks that idled their engines in front of our house, or the gang of motorcycles roaring over the bridge, reverberating throughout the valley. These things we don’t miss.

      Another thing I don’t miss is the winter weather, but joke’s on me… we just got 6 inches of snow last night… more than we’ve had all winter.

      We’ll all enjoy spring when she comes, won’t we?

      1. I envied you living right next to the town library, but I’ve encountered the motorcycles and I’ve lived with idling truck engines.
        This part of the valley has gotten off VERY easy in the last three huge snow storms to hit the East Coast. Three inside two weeks, hilltowns with over a foot of snow, power out all over the area and all we got right here were a couple of inches the first time and nothing the last time. I was grateful!
        I get more encounters with nature living right next to a huge marsh and with the woods that borders the Northampton bike path behind our building. The marsh has been too dry for many years for beavers, but there was a period where they were very active engineers, building dams, houses and felling trees. I’ve seen foxes, deer, occasional bears and of course lots of raccoons.

        Just read your train post. I know this doesn’t really fit the frieght trains (unless you use that mode of travel), but I love Milay’s poem that ends “My heart is warm with the friends I make/ And better friends I’ll not be knowing/ But there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take/ No matter where it’s going.” That said, I have yet to use the train to go north to VT or south to NYC.

  4. Pingback: About Amish | A Long Way from Middlefield, Ohio

  5. When I was in high school in the Netherlands, I had to write an essay of another country. Somehow I got a book about the Rockey Mountains.
    My hubby went for half a year to Canada and when we met, we both likes thw country. Later we immigrate to Canada. Close to the Rockies. Moved to Manitoba but came back here with sight on the Rockey Mountains.
    My favorite Psalm is Psalm 121. My help is from the Mountains. Only there is freedom also in spiritual life.
    When we married the organist asked us what to play when coming and put out of church. I mentioned the psalm, if possible. And she did play it. If they play it when walking out the church I some times just like to start singing, but my voice is not the greatest… But I am humming and singing in my heart.
    Thanks for this special post.

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