Today I decided to take a walk by the stream in back of the house. Almost within sight of my backyard, the stream has been beckoning to me as it winds through the dark woods on its way to the Narrows Pond. It has been a long time since I walked along the stream. Today, the snow was not deep in the woods. Today, it was not too cold. So after I made raspberry squares for the library meeting tonight, I found my winter boots and my camera, gathered the dog, and headed out back.
In my imaginings, the dog and I would walk quite a while by the stream. Maybe not down to the Narrows, but at least far enough to leave our house and yard behind. Alas, reality and imaginings don’t always coincide. I hadn’t counted on the snow-covered leaves being so slippery. I hadn’t remembered the banks of the stream being so steep. As I inched my way along, with the dog trotting lightly ahead of me, I looked for a stick to help steady myself. I found one, and as I crossed a hilly ledge that went from one side of the stream to the other, I idly reflected on how much it would cramp Christmas if I fell and broke either an arm or a leg.
This vision of handicap trumped the vision of walking by the stream, and I decided it was time to turn around. Before I did, I stopped for a bit, listening to the sound of water rushing under a skim of ice. Not far from where I stood, I saw animal tracks—deer and squirrels and who knows what else. Beyond the animal tracks was a great tree that had fallen, reminding me of the bleached skeleton of a whale.
Slowly, slowly, I made my way back to the house, where I found a package—a Daedalus order—waiting for me. I hadn’t gone very far, but I had heard the stream and had felt the presence of the forest. I was chilly enough for a cup of tea and ready for a sample of the raspberry bars.
The dog was ready, too, and after sharing a bar with me, he took a nap in his spot by my desk while I wrote this piece.
Next time the dog and I walk in the woods, we will stick to the trails. My knees are simply too stiff to deal with slippery banks. Still, it was a fine thing to stand by the stream and listen to the water and to feel the forest all around me.