Walking through Lemont

I met a mystic today.

A remarkable man emailed me yesterday, asking if I would meet him on Mount Nittany to hear about a vision for a few acres. Today I met him, and spent most of the afternoon in his orbit. I’m not sure how to put the experience into words. He spoke for all but maybe ten percent of the nearly five hours we spent together, and the sheer volume and velocity of his thought was incredible. I won’t soon forget him, this mystic figure who occupies what he calls “real time” and who experiences a distinctive life.

We walked down Mount Nittany from the trailhead through Lemont and back at one point; I captured a few of those scenes along the way. Just two thoughts from the walk that were shared with me:

First, an answer to the riddle, “Why do they call them ‘Nittany’ Lions?” What if, rather than owing either to any American Indian folklore or to thin-air invention of a never-seen breed of mountain lion, there were a simpler and more likely answer? What if the earliest settlers noticed something different about the Pennsylvania mountain lions that lived and lingered near the Nittany Mountain, some distinctive and maybe peculiar demeanor or set of habits that set those Pennsylvania mountain lions apart, those looks that drank their water from the springs of the Mountain and prowled beneath its ancient canopies? “Those Nittany mountain lions,” the settlers might have started to reflect amongst themselves… “There’s something about them…” An answer to a riddle that presents another. But the simplest answer yet: those Pennsylvania lions acted differently when they were near Nittany Mountain, for whatever reason.

And second, one of the most obvious ironies about most of our experiences with Mount Nittany that I had never given any thought. “Everyone drives halfway up the Mountain from Penn State or Lemont village, and then park and start hiking at the trailhead’s halfway point. When they come down they say, ‘I’ve hiked Mount Nittany!’ But those people have hiked one half of the Mountain.” This is what spurred our walk down the Mountain from the Mount Nittany Conservancy trailhead to Lemont and back. We’re only really hiking one half of the Mountain from the elevation of the trailhead…

Visiting Penn State/State College/Lemont/Boalsburg this weekend for the first time since late January. Tonight I’m heading to “Mount Nittany Night” at Mountain View Country Club in Boalsburg, which will bring together a few dozen of the Mount Nittany Conservancy’s supporters. I think this is the third “Mount Nittany Night” of the eight they’ve hosted that I’ll have been to.

It’s good to be in Happy Valley in summer. Peter Atkinson gets in from New York tonight.

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