Monday, May 15, 2006

Blazing a new trail-May 15th

With the successful completion of my first semester back in school, and a brief break in the rainy weather that would have made any woodland outing a trek through muck, I found myself able today to at long last go for a walk. None to soon, as well, as I noticed my gut had begun to show this winter, most likely brought on the years of on again, off again getting high and gorging.

I walked Serena back to her work downtown and dropped of some mail and then turned back towards the west side of town, not quite sure where I would go. As I finished crossing the bridge, it popped into my mind that I'd walk down towards the Moose Lodge, where the roads running east/west dead-ended, to see what was in the woods past those dead ends.

I walked briskly but not hurriedly, enjoying the smell of the lilacs on the gusts of breeze that came up from time to time. Again, traffic cleared as I came to streets I had to cross, and I appreciated, unarrogantly, the path unfolding before me. Any potential obstacles melted away or were neatly avoided in step.

I finally came to the Moose Lodge, where I walked across its empty parking lot, towards the line of trees at the back of the property. At first, it appeared that the property ended at a cliff that went straight down to the Kinnicinnic, but as I walked north along the perimeter, I noticed where the river bend slightly, opening up a small swath of land at its bank. I took down a path, pausing momentarily only to decide whether I should take this path or the other, and made my way down towards the river.

Down at the bank, I stood a moment as two loud kingfishers chased each other down the river in front of me. Then I noticed that a path went along the riverbank, and I turned north and followed it. It lead to a network of pathways, some probably made my humans and others, barely discernible and shielded with low branches, obviously forged by animals.

I wondered the paths for a while, getting my bearings and trying to pick one that would lead in the general direction of home, as soon my son would be returning home from school, and I wanted to be there to greet him in case he forgot his housekey.

I stopped in my tracks, however, when I came to a clearing by the riverbank. Sticking out of the river were several similar stumps, all jutting out about eight inched from the surface, spaced in a regular pattern. It looked as though some beavers dragged some logs and sticks and set them against the stumps in an effort to build a dam, but the stumps were obviously cut by man, perfectly flat. Walking on top of the stumps, one could make their way about halfway across the river, and if one trusted the beavers, they might be able to cross the entire river on the logs that made up the dam.

I stood there for a good while on one of the stumps, trying to balance as I looked around up in the canopy of the woods and listened to the babbling water make its way past the gaps in the dam. Realizing that it was getting late, I reluctantly got off my stump and returned to the path.

I made my way south down the path, occasionally, switching paths according to instinct and visual prospects, but eventually they dwindled to one path, not very well worn at all, and I wondered if it might just dead end. As I was thinking this thought, a heron took to the air from the path, about twenty or thirty feet down, and annouced its displeasure with my intrusion. Rather than disturbing such a wonderful bird any further, I turned back.

About a hundred feet back I noticed an old, weather worn red shed, and had contemplated going up the ten foot incline to take a look at it and also to see if I might exit the woods there, but had decided against it. I returned to the shed and found that I could indeed exit there, right onto an old access road. I then made my way, on surface streets, back home.

My walk home went as smoothly as before, and I never once had to break stride. I kept his stride even as I a red winged blackbird flew not less that five feet in front of my face, having been chased off of a feeder by a blue jay. I could hear the air go past his wings and I could make out the details of his every feather.

As the blackbird flew past me, I thought about how many people would not just break stride, but stop and maybe even duck as the bird approached. And then I thanked god that I was unafraid of nature.


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