The bakery season has been a long one. Many long hours make for one tired woman.
This morning I ran into town to take care of some business. Was planning to rush home and get back to work, but somehow my car got pulled into the McAfee's Knob trailhead parking lot, as if by a magnet.
I used to hike a lot. These days the only hiking I get is when the animals escape to the wrong field. Which is alright. We live in the shadow of the Appalachian Trail and hiking around our property is a joy. But did I mention those long bakery hours?
A perfectionist enjoys long hard hikes, minimum 5 miles, up to 12 or 14, to feel like she is really accomplishing anything. I decided that it would be good therapy to take a nice hour, hour and a half hike, with no real destination in mind, to enjoy the beginning of fall. Didn't have any good shoes with me or water or snacks, but a stroll appealed to me greatly.
Blood pressure dropped, even as heart rate accelerated. The smell of earth and moss and leaves was the sweetest of perfumes. Fluttering falling leaves made me feel as if I were in the middle of a snow globe, but with autumn leaves instead of snow. Much better! The trail was quiet, as I headed toward Dragon's Tooth. Knew I couldn't reach that point, but the point for me was to be outside, to be quiet and to listen.
For a time I only listened to my heart beat. Tried to take in the colors of the mosses and lichen. Some so soft and green, like a leprechaun's faded velvet coat, a bit worn around the edges, but fine and dandy. Other mosses were emerald and glowing, inviting like a fancy wing back chair set in front of a fire, with a little table beside, upon which rested a nice old pipe. The lichens were curled and frayed, grey and worn, like pages of a book scattered in a rain storm. Mountains in the distance were soft and blue and comforting to me.
At some point along the trail I reached the giant boulders. A place where we used to bring the kids when we would travel between Texas and New Jersey. We would pause the trip, spend a couple of hours hiking, let the kids crawl over the boulders and stretch from the endless miles. We would look into the valley and dream and wish we could live here.
After we moved to the farm, we would take the kids and hike and marvel that our dreams came true.
Last time I hiked with Philip and the kids along that spot was my birthday a couple of years ago. I told Philip that a nice hike with the family was what I wanted for my birthday (which falls in fall). He took the morning off of work and we all meandered along, crawled over the boulders, sat in the autumn sunshine and reveled in family time, crisp air, colorful leaves all brown, red and gold.
What a surprise. As I reached those boulders, I was racked with sobs. Out of nowhere, grief welled up as a fountain. No more will we hike together as we did back then.
I allowed myself the space for sobs. Wept and embraced the loss. Sat for a few extra minutes, then headed back down the trail.
It may sound weird, but oddly enough, I didn't stay sad. A bit bittersweet, but more poignant than sad. I deeply miss Philip and our family times together. But we will still hike as a family. Probably not as often as I would like, but it is part of who we are. I am thankful to have had a few moments to be still and feel today. But now, back to work! I hope you readers will take the time and go outside to feel today. Sometimes that involves some pain, but trust me, I think it is a good thing.