Thursday, January 26, 2006


After my conference sessions on Tuesday I was feeling rather cooped up, so I decided to take a walk starting in the parking lot that edged a woods behind my hotel. Almost immediately I found a two-track road that led down into the woods, so I followed that. It was already nearing dusk, so the woods were quiet, except for the sound of breeze through the pines, a sound that is too beautiful to describe well, except to say it always makes me feel as though the world is both magical and serene.

My two-track road soon split into two two-tracks, and I took the one that went lower into the forest, hoping to find some birds or a stream. As I descended the hill, I started seeing more snow on the ground, though it was still just a dusting. The sky was overcast, and it wasn’t long before I felt the first pellets of sleet on my face. My two-track came to a gate, such as is found at service roads. I could have walked further, but my time was limited, and I hadn’t yet seen any birds or found a stream, so I decided to go back up hill and follow the second two-track for awhile.

The second two-track ran higher along the hill, giving me good views of the ridge across the valley. I saw more pines here and heard that lovely sound of the wind as it blew through them. The wind was picking up and the sleet was turning to snow. The sky looked angry with the darkening of nightfall and speeding clouds.

I felt as though I could walk for miles and would have gladly done so. It would have been a perfect walk if only I’d been backpacking and could have kept going on further, knowing that I would soon set my tent and be heating up dinner. But my walk on this day was only that small step from perfection and so is hardly worth noting at all. It was just what I needed after a day of being cooped up indoors.

Over the years, I’ve found that my best walks are these unexpected ones: the lovely spot where I least expect to find it, new territory to walk in with something unknown around each slight bend. I am so easily bored that I can always find excuses not to walk in the woods where I live and have come to know so well. I am so blessed to live surrounded by nature, surrounded by forest, but too often I just find excuses not to spend more time out in them. Too muddy, not enough time in the evening, the cabin really needs vacuuming, etc. My excuses are never ending and too numerous to list.

But give me something new, and the magic of the outdoors is fresh again. I only wish that I could so easily feel that magic in places I have come to know well and not just in these as yet unexplored spots. This is a major character flaw for me--that I need to see the “new” all the time. I too often have trouble finding new things about places I know well, though I will be the first to tell you that I know they are there—that each sunrise is different, each day brings changes and new things to see. But somehow, for me, the magic fades in those places I know well, so I am always looking to that new place, the one where I don’t know what’s around the next bend, to give me a jolt and remind me that magic is never far away.

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