Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31.13 :: Walking in the Woods

Leaves and twigs crunch and snap under my worn Nike’s. The ground forgives, damp and spongy. Caden and Jayci run behind and before and beside us, jumping over roots and gathering acorns to toss deep off the path. They squabble and make-up in rousing circles, particularly after Jayci “accidentally” hits Caden with an acorn or two.
Shhh I tell them: listen.

They look around quizzically. We dont hear anyfing, Caden informs me.

Exactly, I tell them. Listen closer. Now what do you hear?

Quiet, they say. Bugs. Birds. Leaves. Water.

We trudge quietly for just a minute, I savor the silence gathering under the soaring tree tops. Closing my eyes and drinking it deep, before the chattering from my children rises in cresting waves and we continue our hike. We head down on a winding path, meandering lower and jumping over fallen trees.

The sun has begun its slow descent beneath a cloudy cloak. Its light filters gently through the trees, not golden so much as pale grey, reflecting with gently brilliance on the lake beneath us. The effect is unnerving, reflecting such that I cannot tell sky from water, nor up from down.

Emerging from the trees onto the lakeshore, we clamber over shale slices and Adam skips rocks with quiet splashes across the water, while Jayci and Caden land theirs with satisfying kerplunks.

We are alone, but not really. The pebbles we toss into the water make ripples that widen across the lake.

Later that night, we gather around the fire to roast biscuits and chicken while Adam concocts some delicious potatoes over the camp stove. Caden and Jayci grow impatient, eating their biscuits doughy and clambering around the campsite, accumulating dirt across their shirts and beneath their nails.

The sky seeps to inky black, and we tuck the kids into their tent before huddling together close to the fire, even though it’s not really all that cold. Still, the back of my calves feel chilled to the touch, while my shins flame with heat from the glowing embers. We cannot see any other campsites nearby, though occasionally we hear distant raucous laughter from a group much further down the trail.

Adam and I eat biscuits and potatoes like communion, passing a cup to one another across the flicking light from the flames. Overhead, the trees sway dark silhouettes against a navy sky, illuminated by an occasional flash of lightening without accompanying thunder. We curve our backs closer to the warmth, and the peace God promises feels so near we can taste it. Smoky and flecked with ash, hard won and gently nurtured from spark into flames.

The cicadas sing their chorus and we close our eyes to listen to the crackling fire and rustling leaves, our fingers entwined in the dark night.

"Never did I think so much, exist so vividly, and experience so much, never have I been so much myself- if I may use that expression - as in the journeys I have taken alone and on foot. There is something about walking which stimulates and enlivens my thoughts. When I stay in one place I can hardly think at all; my body has to be on the move to set my mind going." - Rousseau


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