Haiku XXIX and Thoughts on Doubling Back

Waiting at the gate
Another late departure
Change flights to leave home.

So here I am at the airport, hours earlier than needed because my flight through Philadelphia is late enough there’s a good chance I’d miss my connection to Minneapolis.  So I took a seat on another flight through Chicago, which leaves two hours later than my original flight and gets me to Minneapolis over an hour later than planned.  Which is an hour later than my body time, since I’ll be flying through that invisible line where the clocks jump back an hour.

I keep walking back and forth between my new gate and my original gate to see if the delayed Philadelphia plane is here yet.  Maybe I should stay with my planned itinerary, I’ll get to Minneapolis earlier, I won’t have to wait around here so long?  The plane still isn’t there.  I walk back to my new gate — empty, no one at the gate counter yet to give me new boarding passes.  So back to the original gate, nothing new, turn and walk back down the long tiled corridor of the airport to a cafe and check out the menu, decide to go eat at the grill down past the other gate, walk back, eat, come back to the new gate, walk back to the old, back and forth, leave or stay?  No choice really, there isn’t a plane at either gate.

Yesterday morning David and I spent about an hour working on a poem for a holiday card that explores the idea of doubling back, of duality, of two things happening at once, two poets simultaneously writing the same poem.  Then we packed up and left to meet up with Ruth and Rick for a hike of Mt. Hedgehog.  The afternoon turned sunny and the hike was glorious, a trail dusted with snow rising through hemlocks and hardwoods to ledges that ring the mountain, opening up grand views of Passaconaway and Chocorua rising to the south. 

We’d planned the hike for the narrow band of afternoon light, so we’d finish in time for an early dinner.  But we planned it too tight and ended up still on the trail when it got dark.  I pulled out my headlamp and David got out his flashlight, neither shedding much light due to low batteries.  The trail at first was easy enough to follow, but then the wide open strip lit with snow dust crossed a brook and we couldn’t tell if the trail turned with the brook or crossed it.  I started hunting for blazes, walking up and down the different possible directions, finally finding a blaze.  We continued on a wet, sunken trail bed but then had doubts.  Were we following a brook, or on a badly eroded trail?  Again, I went back and found a blaze on a tree and a culvert sticking through the gravel.  We continued on.  I stepped in a deep puddle and water poured into my boot.  I plowed through water and wet ground, then came to a narrow swatch and couldn’t find any footprints.  I turned around and looked for the last blaze, found one and turned again, lost confidence and went back.  Doubling back, going forward, doubling back, going forward, David and Rick and Ruth letting me lead.  I pushed through the blackness of low shrubs at the narrow swatch and swung my head down.  Footprints in the gravel in front of me.  “This is it,” I said and kept going.  Soon I came to a foot bridge and signs.  We got out of the woods, laughing and relieved, all agreeing that was enough dark hiking to make an adventure we didn’t need to repeat. 

Last night we got to our cars and a dinner in front of a roaring fire in a pub.  Tonight I hope I get to Minneapolis.

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