The once buried autumn leaves were scattered throughout the trail, dried out from the last snow fall.
Scattered winter branches and twigs littered the path. Tree roots peeked through the leaves which could cause an ankle injury if you weren’t paying attention. Picking up your feet was required to continue. Downhill was tricky as my boots would slip on the leaves, narrowly missing roots. Today was a gift of early spring, calling us to the trail for a mid-afternoon walk with McDermott our dog.
The creaking whine of large tree branches high above would remind you of a squealing animal when the wind moves through the woods. We hardly noticed it as we “talked treason”, as the Irish say. Quiet seclusion is the perfect place for conversation. Walking side by side keeping an eye out for the dog, our legs and breathing in sync, connecting with each other beyond routine. Nature wipes out a revving mind, a worried mind and focuses on basic steps and the simple beauty of the empty wood.
A mile and a half into the walk, we rounded a corner approaching my favorite knoll of pine trees. This is the place where the air drapes over me in calm. I walk below the pines and hope he feels the same way. This location approaches the last bridge before we complete the circle, so it’s my last exhale before we go back to our life. Looking forward as the path winds to the bridge makes me happy and sad at the same time. The parking lot is not far. I don’t want to go home yet.
McD takes this last opportunity to leap over some downed trees off the path and run into the water to muddy his paws. I don’t care if my car gets filthy. He circles around and repeats his joy, running ahead of us. McDermott’s freedom of movement brings me to a place of total comfort. Animals are meant to run free without consequence. They show you how much they enjoy the occasional untethering, and I’m excited for him.
Ask me what my favorite thing to do is? A long walk in the woods with my sweet dog and my committed partner. We solve problems, cherish memories, and have some laughs. We lovingly reconnect in a way that you can’t plan or even expect. The change of scenery reaches into a place we don’t often go. It can be all encompassing allowing us to have the simplest of thoughts reflected in our basic wooded surroundings. It is magical.