Aug 24 2008

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A Quick Jaunt up Aldis Hill

Posted at 7:59 am under Blog Post

I slipped into the forest shade at midday, getting away from abstract literary matters for a while. The smell of earth, lush vegetation, dried leaf matter and rotting wood worked its magic on me. It was the smell of wild happiness, reminding me of more remote places I would soon visit. The trees welcomed me with open arms.

To make the short hike last, I cut my pace. A spider’s web glistened in a shaft of light. Leaves rustled ever so quietly in a gentle breeze. A katydid sang its late summer song. The boulders and downed trees scattered about the forest floor seemed timeless and unchanged. I’d seen them all many times before.

The green infinity extending from me in every direction was an illusion to be sure. Aldis Hill is, after all, less than a square mile of forest located on the edge of town. A mere pocket of wildness.

Much to my dog’s disappointment, no squirrels stirred about the forest floor. No bird sang in the heat of the day either. I followed the well-beaten path underfoot all the way to the top of the hill, past the lookout, past secondary paths trailing away. I reveled in the sweaty pant uphill even though it went by all too quickly. My reward was a patch of white asters in bloom near the summit and a passing view of larger hills to the east. A two-note whistle to Matika, who had wandered off, put her back at my side without hesitation. Good dog.

Everyone should have a place like this – an arboreal sanctuary only a few minutes away from home where wild nature can be sampled, triggering memories of more adventurous outings. Some of my best ideas have come to me on this hill, along with a number of unexpected insights. The mind needs lots of space in which to expand if it is to reach beyond the commonplace. Fresh air feeds it. The surrounding forest encourages contemplation. Sometimes an hour is all it takes.

The easy ramble back to the car was one long daydream. I returned to the starting point and popped out of the woods faster than expected. A glimpse through the trees at Lake Champlain in the distance, then into the car I went for the drive home. Back to work. But I’d visited a familiar haunt and was better off for it. Not a deep woods experience, but good enough for the time being.

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