Archive for April, 2016

Apr 29 2016

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Taking Time to Walk

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InBkRes springI took my dog Matika with me when I went book hunting in Burlington the other day. That was a commitment to go for a walk at some point. It can’t be all about work all the time. Actually it can be, but that’s not healthy. So I had Matika (and my hiking boots) in the car to remind me what’s important, to lend a little balance to my life.

The trail around Indian Brook Reservoir is a nice, two-mile loop. Can’t do it in the summer because the locals keep the place for themselves. But this time of year it’s available. It’s an easy way to get a woods fix when a trip to the mountains is out of the question.

No leaves on the trees yet, but the trail was dry beneath an azure sky. A few patches of conifers provided sufficient shade. I spotted a fellow on the water fishing from a canoe and thought to myself: man, that’s the way to go. But tramping around the reservoir was good enough for me for the time being. Besides, I needed the exercise.

A woodpecker knocking, a duck sighting, and a few wildflowers blooming across the bleached forest floor – it doesn’t take much to make me happy this time of year. As for Matika, well, she was having a great time between sniffing, chasing chipmunks, and doing a meet-n-greet with half a dozen other dogs encountered along the way. She gave me big sloppy kisses when we got back to the car. I took that as her way of saying “thank you.”

I wish I could can this feeling one has after a mere hour walking outdoors. It always clears my head, and I work better afterward as a result. Yet I have to force myself, more often than not, to take the time to do it. I wonder why that is.


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Apr 21 2016

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Spring Fever

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hepaticaThree days, three short hikes.  There’s business to be done but it’s hard staying indoors. We’re into sunny weather now with temps reaching into the 50s, 60s.  I’m taking time to stretch my legs and groove on nature’s awakening.

I hike strong and hard down the trail… because I can. The flu bug that felled me last month is long gone. I’m getting my strength back. Feels good to speed hike like a man on a mission.  My dog Matika has a hard time keeping up. She’s a little annoyed, actually. I’m cutting into her sniffing time.

The forest is leafless and brown for the most part. That’s okay. The greenery will come soon enough. It has already begun, actually. Patches of trout lily leaves and other vegetation have arisen from the forest duff already. Yeah, the great green explosion is not far away.

What’s this? Round-lobed hepatica in full bloom! Dozens of creamy white and blue flowers quake in the gentle breeze. Some are still unfurling. They haven’t been up more than a couple days. Always one of the first wildflowers to grace the forest floor, they mesmerize me. I drop down on the ground for a closer look.

Continuing along the trail, I am giddy with the prospects of the growing season ahead. Then I start plotting: When can I get into the woods for an extended hike? Breaking a sweat, I strip off my light jacket and breathe in deeply the cool air. Like me, Matika is all smiles. And why shouldn’t she be? It’s a glorious spring day and we’re in the thick of it.



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Apr 12 2016

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Gaining Perspective

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burning wordsToday was a perfect day for it: cool, damp and overcast, after a good rain. I coughed a little as I slipped into the woods, promising myself that I wouldn’t linger. I’ve only been back on my feet for a few days after a nasty bout of the flu. Get this task done then head home.

I carried with me a copy of my most recently published book, along with a pack of matches. Once I was deep enough in the woods, I knelt down and pulled back a patch of forest duff. Then I made a teepee out of pages that I tore from the book. It only took one match to set them aflame. I fed the rest of the book into the fire until it was gone. The pages burned fast.

Once the flame had died away, all that remained of my most recent literary triumph was a pile of ash. Some of the words were still visible. I mixed the ash into the soil – first with a stick, then with my hands – until nothing remained but damp earth. Then I replaced the patch of forest duff and hiked out.

Anthropologists and others who study the evolution of humankind tell us that language is a vital part of what makes us human. Our words are more powerful than our tools, or so they say. With them we have created culture and everything that separates us from the animals. As a writer, I am acutely aware of this. I take great pride in my words, in the printed ones that I launch into the world. So it is important, I think, to burn those words every once in a while, and work them into the soil.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Someday humankind and all of its words will be gone. Yet Nature will persist.



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