Sandhills Tree Camp [[BR]]Spring 2023      Appalachian Cove Canticle
by Riverdave Owen
Olli at Duke Fall Retreat
Montreat NC - October 2015

I wade amidst the gentle flow
Of Montreat's mountain stream
My gaze turns to the canopy
That ancient sylvan dream.

A mist of delicate fragrance
Descends upon my face
I ponder what pure origin
Would proffer such a grace.

At once I spy the tall sweet birch
And realize by chance
This tree has cast its spell on me
With pungent redolence.

Below the birch the bank is lined
By Rhododendron queen
A royal inflorescence at
The advent of each Spring.

Beneath my feet smooth stones abound
With glittered mica flake
As filtered sunlight trickles down
I pause to meditate.

The underbelly of each stone
Enshrouds the soggy home
Of garish sleek amphibians 
The salamander gnome.

And in this wild sequestered place
Endemic fauna thrive
Where seventy known species of
This harlequin survive.

All wrapped in layers high and low
Tree stream and stony trove
They've favored for their habitat
The Appalachian Cove.

I question what compels me to
Return to such a spot
It seems I am attracted to
A pristine Camelot. 

Where all the elements align
In balanced confluence
A searching soul can find its home
And peaceful residence.

Here Nature hums Her canticle
As Eden overflows
Rich hollow of diversity
Where Ginseng magic grows.

From Attakulla's lower slope
I made my vision quest
To Wadi Qilt and back again
My mission found its rest.

I celebrate these mountain coves
As gifts of sacred space
Preserving wildness in the folds
Of their sweet green embrace.
* Attakulla - Cherokee name for Mt. Mitchell, the highest point in Eastern America, whose summit is 8 miles northwest of Montreat
** Wadi Qilt - a canyon cove east of Jerusalem where I often hiked, swam and meditated in the 1980s
*** Photo from the Center for Natural Capital