Mar 30 2010

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Mist in the Birches

Posted at 2:39 pm under Blog Post

With temps in the 30s and a 90% chance of rain, I wasn’t real excited about going for a hike today.  But it was either that or mope around the house all afternoon.  So I changed into wools and thermals, and went out the door.

The moment I stepped into the woods, I knew I’d made the right decision.  With the ground giving way underfoot and nothing but trees all around, I immediately felt my nerves uncoil.  Five or ten minutes later, as I was leaving the logging road and starting to bushwhack, I sensed an old, familiar self returning.  It’s like that sometimes.  After a long winter, I don’t even know who I am any more.  It takes a cool, wet forest to remind me.

I walked past patches of snow still on the ground – reminders that winter just ended, and that one last snowstorm is still quite possible.  Here in New England, spring is the least predictable of all the seasons.  And that’s why I was still dressed for the colder weather.

My dog, Matika, frolicked through the forest, hot on the tracks of wild animals, occasionally flushing a ruffed grouse.  I can only imagine what she was thinking as she sniffed the fresh piles of deer pellets.  Maybe she too was feeling a wilder self return.

Angry about the poor health of loved ones, the fallout of a bad economy and never having enough money, I hiked furiously at first.  I swept around a frozen beaver pond, hellbent upon moving forward like I had somewhere important to go.  Then I stopped in a nearly pure stand of white birches as if stopping the madness.  I looked around and saw only mist and stillness.  I listened and heard only forest silence, until a pileated woodpecker let out its manic cry in the distance.  And that’s when it started to drizzle.  But I didn’t care.

Sweating in so many layers, I shed my sweater and rolled up my sleeves.  Then I meandered aimlessly through the forest, sometimes following a trail, sometimes not, as the mist thickened around me.  Matika flashed a great big smile at me and I returned it – both of us in dog heaven.

Back on the logging road, I left deep boot prints next to moose tracks while walking out.  I didn’t even try to dodge the pools of meltwater.  I sloshed through them like an eight year old trusting his rubber boots.  Then I crossed a brook with a short, easy hop.  The open brook’s babble and bubble was music to my ears.

Returning home, I marveled at how dismal the day looked from inside the house, and how chilled I felt all of a sudden.  So it’s a good thing that I went out today.  Otherwise, I might still think that it’s still winter.

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