The bitter air violates my skin as I step out of the truck and start up the old military road
The white mist of my own breath visible in spots where a break in the canopy allows the moon to shine
Dad and I traverse in silence, our headlamps lead the way
But make no mistake, we’ve made this same walk hundreds of times
The lamps are simply a means to portray to others a human figure
We stop at the split spruces
This is where we’ll part and where we will meet up after the sun sinks to the west
A short but strenuous climb makes up the last leg of the journey
And this will be made alone
I settle into my office for the day, a large maple nestled four-fifths of the way up a bank
Sweat has formed on my forehead and has temporarily stained my back and legs
Daylight is still 40 minutes away
A brook with a respectable current roars just out of sight, providing what will be the lone constant soundtrack of the day
The darkness comforts me and allows my mind to clear itself of any of its problems and await the impending daylight with eager anticipation
As the start of another season draws near, I can begin to make out the outlines of the neighboring trees
Chickadees, sparrows, and finches rise out their quarters and begin their day by serenading each other while I act as an unexpected, but appreciative audience member
It’s opening day
I have yet to be bored with long and fruitless sits or disappointing scenarios
I have not yet frozen to death while wondering why I was out here
I have only been greeted by the hope and excitement of another deer season
It’s peaceful here; Nary a human voice hits my eardrums; Only the fabulous songbirds and the occasional chirping of a chipmunk; It’s okay, though; We can coexist up here
Gentle slopes and charming wood lots; Rolling hills and sun drenched meadows; A calm, quiescent brook babbles in the not too distant; I sit here often and soak it all in
It wasn’t always this way; Our descendants experienced here quite differently; Cracks of musket fire and roaring of cannons once drowned out the songbirds of the day; Large trees reduced to rubble; Craters filled the hillsides; Limbs blown off, lifelessness strewn across the meadow; The desperate shrieking of young boys dying in the background forever to haunt those who were just out of harm’s way; When the dust settled, those who were left had to grieve for their fallen comrades all the while carrying them piece by piece off the battlefield
I sit here often and soak it all in; How many took their last breath underneath the rock upon which I sit? How many souls are forever stuck here in their personal hell, a place I come to for peace and tranquillity? How ironic…..
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.