May 1, 2011
There are always choices. The north fork and the south fork in the trail present themselves. There is no particular reason to choose one over the other. Today I chose the south fork, to walk in spring the same path my snow shoed angel broke in the heavy snows. It felt like the right thing to do.
This choice set in motion a sudden, startled awareness of a mushroom near the path. I was excited to think I’d found morels. Since there were only two, I plucked them by photo only. Upon identification I was especially glad I’d left them unmolested. They were in fact, wrinkled thimble caps, “edible with caution.” In some people and eaten in quantity, they can produce large muscle discoordination—intoxication without drunkenness. No thanks. A few yards further on, common brown cup mushrooms circled a rock.
Having taken the south fork, I next took a north fork and came upon a dead blue jay. It lay on its back and had no apparent trauma. I paused along my way in remembrance. The cycle of life and death is. All of us will end as the jay ended. We can all hope someone will pause along their way in remembrance.
I could have written more in April and I chose not to. I could have written of the beautiful, warm Easter morning. The warmest Easter in some 30 years. I could have written of the morning that week I ventured out and felt an overwhelming wrongness with being in the woods. Having never felt that before, I turned around and left.
Today it was about rightness. One need not go to Tibet or India for a spiritual journey. One need only choose. These woods are my spiritual journey. They are my meditation, my church, my peace. At their door I shed my stress like a heavy winter coat. When I am there, I am.
There are always choices. Small, right choices brought me to today. Noticing a mushroom, wondering what it was, asking for a book to identify it, this is a thread of right choices. Playing with my cell phone camera, noticing I took good photos, getting a real camera and wondering how it would look to have a year of photos, this is a thread of right choices. Putting one foot in front of the other, even when I don’t feel like it, this is a right choice. These are the threads of right choices that are the eternal now.
May 3, 2011
Shade! Its appearance seemed sudden but it most certainly was not. The long, slow process of budding and slowly, oh so slowly, the unfolding of those small green leaves spanned weeks. Only then was there shade.
May 6, 2011
Somewhat peevishly, I wondered what I would see that was special. Then I look down the path and realized that everything in my view was special. Bright, beautiful variations of green filled the eye. The sky was perfect blue with the puffy, white clouds photographers love. Spring flowers lined the trail. Once again, I laughed at myself.
Just after I crossed the stream and head uphill, I happened to notice something out of the corner of my eye. It was a dot of rose color that seemed out of place. As I focus on the dot and walked toward it my jaw dropped. Two, no three, four, five Lady Slippers! I have walked these woods for six years and never seen them before. As I dropped to my knees to photograph them I laughed and I cried. That happens in the presence of small miracles. I turned to look for more and found a sixth, as well as leaves of three more plants that were not in bloom. Lady Slippers have become increasingly rare as woodland habitat is destroyed. One is a gift; six are a miracle.
The corner of my eye has perfect vision. Every time I get a photo of something wonderful, the description of the process starts with the words, “I just happened to notice out of the corner of my eye.”
May 11, 2011
It is ancient wisdom that you cannot step into the same river twice. The same is true of the woods. From one day to the next, things are born, grow and die and it will ever be so. While the spicy scent of the Russian Olive trees has been curling like incense through the woods for days, they now also have their pale, sea foam colored leaves. The scented blossoms that make them appear white from a distance are fading. That spicy scent is a singular pleasure of spring.
Following closely behind, the honeysuckle are beginning to bloom, so too the deliciously scented wild flax. Spring is as much scent and sound as it is sun and lush life. Light is the genesis of it all and yet, today, I was reminded of the early dark of the summer wood. Deep shadow comes early to the lee of the hill where tall trees in full leaf obscure the sun. The sun that shines til 8 pm in the meadow is down by 7 in the wood. The cool comes sooner and deeper. This is the simple peace that woodlands bring.
Deep woods; deep peace.
May 28, 2011
The scent had changed to honeysuckle, sweet and flowery. Gone was the spice of the Russian Olives. Spring had moved along in my absence. The Lady’s Slippers were finished their bloom and Mountain Laurel took their place. Green in every hue, shape and texture abundantly subsumed open spaces. The open path was now a faint trail through tall plants.
When a “rock” moved on the trail ahead of me, startled, a turtle and I abruptly halted. Eventually, we both relaxed and eyed each other for a while. Apparently both of us decided the other was mostly harmless. Later, I saw a second, much smaller turtle of the same species.
I shall walk again on Monday, as the dire warnings of a heat wave have been breathed away by the cool, dry breezes.