Don’t Be So Shy

I like to hike in seclusion. I posted a couple of weeks ago that I reconnected with an old friend and we have started hiking together. It’s been a great way to hang out in the peace and quiet while getting to know him again.

My buddy was under the weather today and stuck in bed. Okay, no biggie. I’ll strike out on my own this morning. Like I’ve mentioned before, I love being alone in the wilderness.

I chose a group of trails that led to a scenic pond. This journey features a slight elevation gain to help me burn a few calories. Heaven knows I need it! The footing can be rocky but otherwise pretty decent. I know ahead of time that there will be other people on this route, but not too many. Besides, there is enough of an entanglement of trails for folks to choose from.

I encounter no one on my way up, which is fine by me. I can clear my mind and process the stressful work week I just endured. As I reach the pond, I hear a ringing coming up from behind me. It turns out to be a guy on a bike, with some sort of bell hanging from one of the handlebars.

We exchange pleasantries, both of us more than satisfied with the beauty that is the weather. The two of us sat on adjacent rocks and quietly took in our surroundings. We didn’t touch on any deep subjects nor did we come up with any solutions to any of the world’s problems. In fact, I think it was during the times of dead silence that we both appreciated the most.

We both went on our way. I took one trail, he another. I realized that it was okay to hike in seclusion but also okay to share pieces of the day with someone, even a total stranger. I encountered an older couple walking a dog on my way down. I stopped and pet the dog while speaking to his owners. It was a short, pleasant conversation. I smiled all the way back to the car.

The Woods

I took this picture a couple of years ago. Notice the small deer in the center.

I love the woods. It’s a year round pleasure for me; Hiking, hunting, just clearing my mind; It’s the serenity and peace and quiet I look forward to the most

I don’t always have an agenda in the woods; Does one really need it? Sometimes I go just to sit and listen

You never know what you might see in the woods; A deer, a bear, somedays the shape of a tree or the odd formation of a rock will suffice

Is there a good acorn crop this year? Beechnuts? Berries? There’s always something to find out in the woods

The woods are where I’ve learned the most from my dad; He learned from his dad; I hope to pass the knowledge down to my son; Teach him that there is much more to life than deadlines, appointments, competitive sports, and video games

Many a man or woman have asked me the question, “How can you go out in the woods and just sit there all day?” To which I answer, “How can I not?”

Best Friends No Matter What

I recently hooked back up with a friend that I have known for more than 30 years. He reached out to me after I had run into his wife by chance. I’m sure she told him to call on me, perhaps, because she wanted him to get out of the house!

This guy and I were inseparable in our earlier years. He was the best man at my first wedding, as was I at his wedding. He is still married to the same wonderful lady, whereas I have had a different story. In fact, after the brutal breakup of my first marriage (as mentioned in First Love….), it was he who singlehandedly got me through it.

I hadn’t seen, nor really spoken much to my buddy for several years, even though he lives about five miles from me. You see, he are are are so similar in that we like to our alone time for reflection and dislike talking on the phone. Usually our correspondence consisted of a “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Birthday,” text.

He messaged me and asked if I wanted to go hiking. I was surprised, as, while I love the outdoors, I did not remember him as such a person. I agreed to go, not expecting much more than a quick jaunt through the woods and catching up on mundane things, like, “How’s the job going?” To be honest, I was a little apprehensive, thinking the outing might be a little awkward.

While we did touch on small talk, I got so much more out of our 3.3 miles together. We openly conversed about meaningful life topics, such as what we hope our future brings as we get older. How our children are shaping us. What our fears were going forward. These are the things that can only come out during a peaceful and secluded block of time together. Our old friendly jabs at each other aged well and were in full swing despite the passage of time. We now have plans to hike every two weeks (Hey, we’re old and need recovery time!).

That morning, I learned that I am extremely lucky. I have that special friend that, regardless of how long we have stayed out of touch, we can get back together and not skip a beat. Everyone should have a friend like that. I hope you all do.

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