Yesterday’s bright sun and hard wind (though not as hard as today) called for a walk in the woods. Which made me think of the Great Brook Trail in Deerfield, a three-mile walk through a variety of woodlands and wetlands, past beaver ponds and along the Great Brook, and up and down hummocks of granite ledges. There are bridges to cross, delightful hand-lettered signs pointing out side trails to vernal pools and overlooks, and best of all, a bench set on a rock outcropping halfway along the trail, positioned to look up Great Brook as it runs through a small gorge.
A seat in the woods is an invitation to be present. Present to what? To whatever has brought me outside, or even better, to what is in front of me now that I’m out. Often it’s simply the need to have more space around me, to let some of the energy radiating from my body be absorbed by the wind and rocks and trees. In my last blog post, I described my project last year at this time to write 300 — 400 words each day of the two weeks leading to the winter solstice. On the second day I wrote, I need to be outside moving around. There has been too much moving inside me the last several months, and expanding this churn of energy into a greater sphere has come to feel essential.
Whenever I pass this bench along the Great Brook I imagine coming here some day with a book and a journal and just sitting. Observing, reading, writing. I think the same on many of the hikes I do, imagining an afternoon on a favorite ledge with no ambition beyond being in that spot for as long as I can manage to stay still.
I never do it, always moving on, with some place to get to or some place to be. But yesterday I did stop long enough to sit on the bench and watch the water coming down through the rocks, noticing how light was falling into the woods through the bare trees. I walked and sat and looked. Present.