A few years ago I wrote a story inspired by John Haines titled “A Walk in the Woods With John Haines”. As his words and thoughts continue to provide guidance over the years, I return to this piece and update the images and feelings to reflect the experiences that have defined me.
On our daily walk,
we follow the same worn trails,
make the same turns,
and pass the same trees.
That pond is empty,
covered with algae.
That one is home to
busy and noisy muskrats.
So many times we have
have come this way
that I follow the dogs
as they know where to go
which trail to take
which hill to climb.
Yet this is a new day
filled with nature
and there are infinite mysteries
in each leaf and grain of sand.
Snowshoeing on 03/02/14
I follow the packed trail others before me have taken. Winding through pine, poplar, and birch, it hugs the rocky shoreline. Up and down over boulders and outcroppings, the trial heads deep into the woods before I stop. An abandoned building overlooks the lake. Trees tower over the skewed roof and poke through glassless windows. Floorboards long ago rotted and disappeared, leaving nothing to prevent the forest from overtaking the cabin on the woods.
I continue north along the same trail which dips into a small frozen valley. In warmer months, a creek would fill this space and empty into Lake Superior. Now it is ice beneath 3 feet of snow. Trees bow in half ellipticals from each side and I pass beneath, careful not to break tree limbs, catch my backpack, or otherwise disturb what is here, and continue up the other side.
With empty and open mind I hear the voiceless tree and gently place my hand on its trunk. Eyes closed. When opened I see the light drawn from before this projections and boundaries existed. I see the nothing that gave birth.
Passing the building made of stone
outlines of people in the windows.
Are they watching the patch-robed
monk passing by?
What experiences brought them here?
What truths do they have?
When the seasons change for the
last time of the present life,
experience, truth, non-truth – merge
a final push to reach further
down the path.
The road leads where the mind thinks
in not thinking the road disappears.
The snowy fields beyond the
closed gate neither sing nor cry.
They wait silently.
Even the falling snow makes no sound.
And the echo you hear is my heart racing
as I stand at the closed gate.
Early winter walk
around the lake
hidden within the city.
Further in and background
noise fades to nothing.
And the sky explodes
with deep, dark colors
captured in the ice
and the motionless canoe.
A beautiful cold day for a walk around the lake and into the woods. Not a cloud in the sky. Bare trees rattling against others. Tall grasses, dried and delicate, crunch as we make our way to the frozen shoreline. A surprise greeted us beyond the hill and next to the shoreline – a canoe filled with frozen water and leaves.
A late fall walk with the puppy to the park. Recent rains left great mud for us to play in. The park was alive with ducks, geese, a hawk, chipmunk, and many squirrels gathering food. Within all of the activity, we took time to sit at the beach and watch the ducks play and swim. It was peaceful and allowed myself to clear my head and get back on track.
An early morning walk in the calm and cool air. Before the paths and sand become too hot, there is a peace holding each grain, each branch, and each creature that stirs. Shadows leap from treetops to limbs. The lake is flat and hugs the shoreline closely. The sun wavers in the canopy as a gentle wind caresses our faces.
Stoic Leroy looking for deer or feathers
Feather found on the beach.
There is a deer in the distance.