Scenes in many of my stories are taken directly from real-life adventures. Not that I’ve actually met unicorns, trolls, or dragons. (Or have I?) But the settings, the stillness, or the noise, loud and whispered — all of them experienced at one time or another. (And you thought I just made all this stuff up for my books.)
Last Friday, we knew a big-old snowstorm was heading our way lasting all-day Saturday. That wasn’t the reason why we decided to take a Friday hike. We just enjoy getting out there, and had the time.
A week ago on another hike, we met a deer. This week’s adventure led us to a cute opossum. Animal spotting in the wild is always stimulating, with just the right amount of mutual observation. That said, we also love the woods and water.
Fort Custer Recreation Area was farmland before the military bought up the land during WWII. It was marshland before that. There is at least one cemetery there (seen through the wire fence on the base next to the park), as well as the remnants of roads and house foundations if you know where to look for them.
One short trail we’ve gone on several times circles a small lake, caused by dams, both human-made and beaver-made. With me stopping to take photos, or just to gape at the beauty around, it takes us about an hour to hike it. Short but sweet.
When the water is low, an old road rises from the lake bottom. It’s a secret road, for much of the time it lays unseen, buried below the watery surface. A few times when it was exposed, we’ve walked to the culvert in the middle of the “lake”. This wintery day, we decided to go all the way, straight across Sunken Lake. The tricky part was that walking here involved ice (under the snow-covered road), sinking marsh (through the plants along a narrow strip on either side of the road), or wetness (black water lake).
Successfully on the other side, through the woods, under birds, through a pine forest, and spying footprints in the snow which were tinier than chipmunk prints. Thinking back on it, they could be from mice — but very tiny mice. The prints were probably a day or two old (reasoned from my mad tracking skills), as the snow on the outlines had begun to cave.
Then, over the dam, back to our vehicle and civilization, and home. Those last three words ought to bring warmth. They in fact do: but only a physical warmth. For walking through the winter wilderness brings a deeper warmth, an inner warmth, a peace and stillness which can only be felt and experienced from being “out there”.