[Excerpt from Adventures of Writers Who Walk journal. January 28, 2013. We hiked Radnor Lake by ourselves.]
I made an effort to be present as I walked alone along the trail. At first, it wasn’t difficult. I realized that I had never been hiking alone before, and the sheer thrill of it tickled my over-heightened sense of romanticism. The first thing I observed was the loud communication of the birds taking place all around me. Each bird sang a different verse of a song as they jumped and flew about. I laughed to myself as all of my Cinderella tendencies came back to me, and I wished that for Into the Woods character development, K Rob had just dropped us off in that forest.
There was an overarching ominousness that struck me as very Act II-esque. The overpowering sounds of rushing water, and when that wasn’t there, rushing wind, made all of Nature seem like it was afraid. A sort of pre-storm tremor. All the trees across the lake were smothered in fog. Even the little chipmunk was afraid of me, peeping out of its little hole home. It probably goes without saying, but the fear started to rub off on me. (It probably didn’t help that I was singing “Into the woods but not too long, the skies are strange, the wind is strong.”) It was like the distinct feeling of being followed.
I lost my presence in all of those observations, I lost my sense of self in the wind and the bare trees. I lost me in the smell of the newly shredded mulch from recycled Christmas trees (very strong, sweet citrus smell).
I came back for one moment, though. One view caught my attention and made me stop in wonder. In a split second moment when I had looked up at the trees around me instead of at the path below me, I saw two tall stark white trees hidden amongst the gnarling grey branches. My immediate thought was something symbolic, magical even, like out of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Still not quite sure what to make of that moment or this thought I had: whenever I’m hiking with people, I imagine hiking alone, but now that I’ve hiked alone, I know that the whole time I was imagining hiking with people.