Friday, December 16, 2011

Walking and Revelations

How times have changed. I wouldn’t dream of trespassing today on someone's property. But in earlier times…

I took a walk in the woods that led to a lone house in the middle of a field before No Trespassing signs were on every tree and every fence post, when you knew your neighbors extremely well and might have been relatives. No one cared much if you took long walks on their property back then. No one was hiding their marijuana crops, nor did they want to keep their land only for game hunting--then.

That day, I walked along a faded trail that led to a weather worn abandoned house that had once been a home that held a family, before my time. My imagination helped me consider that the tractor trail beneath my feet had been used for wagon wheels or an early made car.

From a distance, I could see movement in the glassless windows that looked like waving hands.  I shivered and wondered if I should continue, if I had discovered squatters or if I was entertaining figments of my imagination. So, I walked on.
It was mid autumn and with each step the cold ground crunched beneath my booted feet. The crisp clean country air hosted aromas of my childhood: trees, river and cows. Woodsy smells engaged my senses with tender intrusion and produced mental images from the past—some I recognized and some I did not.

Although my first impression of the ramshackle house was of decay and loneliness, I soon realized it was not isolated at all, but a house amid a life copious in nature.  My stroll allowed me a glimpse of three deer grazing in the meadow near the house. A young raccoon hurried up a tree startled by my interruption. A lone squirrel ran past me with food.  Several hefty crows scolded each other. And, high in the sky, buzzards circled with something in mind.
At that moment, I had a revelation. I had become an intrusion in an ecosystem of excellence.
As I neared the house, I could hear the river rushing its banks. The inundation of rainfall two days before my walk had filled the river banks. Although the river didn’t run through this particular piece of land, the roar of its travel reached my ears.
When I finally arrived at the old building, I looked back and realized how far I’d come to get to the house standing in the middle of a field. The waving that I’d seen earlier was strips of unrecognizable fabric that could have been a curtain, at one time. My determination to arrive at the house had scared the wildlife away and I was alone--nearly. Now, I felt out of place in a place where everything had its purpose there, except me.
I learned some things that day.
I learned it's ok to explore life, but there are places we don’t belong and that includes people we shouldn't entertain. And, my inflated self importance took a back seat that day to the revelation that I'm only a tiny speck on very big planet.

I finished my walk around the house leaving only my footprints in the frosted grass as my imprint and walked back home. AsI left that beautiful place, I breathed in the clean crisp air deep into my lungs one last time.
It's been a long time since that walk. My life then and my life now do not mirror each other. In fact that person is long gone and nearly forgotten.