The Genius Loci of the Vermillion Falls
It would be hard to believe that several tons of rapid water rushing over the side of a cliff, a multitude of caves, and a large dense forest make me feel safe, but I am going to tell you now that these boundaries do make up the one place outdoors that I feel the safest, though others would beg to differ with my opinion.
The falls are wicked to outsiders but violently protective of people brave enough to attempt to become familiar with it like me. The best part about having this scenic yet fierce location as my guardian is that I can share a special kind of privacy with Mother Nature that I could not experience otherwise. People who are not familiar with the place do not want to take the risk of climbing down the cliff and through the rocks, so I am therefore able to escape life for a time. The falls know me as I know it, too. They know that I like to be sheltered in the rock formations and that my favorite natural sound is that of a raging waterfall. They know my favorite smell is wildflowers, and so they grow them for me each spring.
The falls never lie to me; they always give the light that Mother Nature decides to provide the earth that day. If the sun is setting, a pink-orange glow illuminates the town, and the â€ścanyonâ€? between the mill and the cliff and the waterfall magnifies the light as it reflects off the water and the rocks until it finally reaches where I sit on a nearby rock, and fills the â€ścanyonâ€? with light. In the winter, the river may freeze, but the raging current underneath is loyal and true to itself as it always wins against the frost.
The Vermillion Falls have been around before Hastings ever came to be a town, and when it finally did, the town was built around two things: Mississippi River, and the Vermillion Falls. The current residents of Hastings identify the falls as being a historical landmark for this reason, and there is now a scenic park on top of the cliff with benches and flowers by the tall forest. This park is a space for people to enjoy the overlook of the river, and is mostly for the unadventurous. Sitting up there is likeâ€¦ looking at a freshly baked apple pie in a glass case. There is no way to enjoy it by looking at it! In order to form a bond with the river, I feel it is necessary to let it envelope you, protect you, on its shore at the bottom of the cliff.
The Genius Loci of the Vermillion Falls are obviously protectors. They know when to be fierce and also when to show deep love. They are physically powerful, but they mentally and emotionally give the feeling of protection and love to all those willing to give it a chance to do so. They connect people of the past, with the people of today, and therefore give us security, familiarity, and self-discovery. Knowing their curves, edges, and surroundings help us all find our curves, edges, and surroundings, which makes life a little more stable and certain in the often chaotic world.
So I tell you now, I can and do feel safe in a place that most would find frightening and dangerous. The Vermillion Fallsâ€™ spirit is almost human-like I suppose, which is why I never feel the need to find someone to take down there with me. I feel accompanied while I sit by the waterfall, and it reassures me I am safe with it.