Friday, December 23, 2011

Finding the path

Spirit stands as if he is trying to figure out which way to go in the small woodlot where we often go for our long daily walks. The paths in this bush, though it's a small one, are never clearly visible.

In spring the forest floor is filled with little green plants covering it thoroughly sometimes with the soft colour of woodland wildflowers.

In fall its covered with leaves and fallen branches.

In winter - it's most often filled with snow and the tracks of squirrels, rabbits, deer, coyote, raccoons and the trail of a porcupine that is resident - unfortunately for the dogs. This year there is more water than snow, but a skiffle of white covered the leafy ground this day.
Because the leaves, fallen branches and vegetation cover clear pathways, I am forced often, to rely on markers like these bright pink bits of flourescent tape attached to trees or shrubs to guide me.

The dogs are no help. Sometimes they run on the pathways, but more often they criss cross the woods and are back and forth many times. They seem to have their own paths which they follow. Or they catch the scent of something and they are off running like mad things. I can sometimes here their tags jingling against their collars, more often not as they run further way from me. But they know where they are and where I am. If  I stop to get my bearings, or to just look at something that's caught my eye, enjoy the peace, the quiet, the occasional sounds or just stop to be still, they eventually come running back, both of them. I can almost see the questions in their eyes. "Why aren't you coming with us? Is anything wrong? Are you okay?"

Satisfied that they've found me off they go again.

I'm always surprised by something on our walks. This day I find two different kinds of apples in a deep coniferous plantation. This part of the wood lot was planted by the owner who kindly allows us to wander through it whenever we want. I've found apples before but never thought about it much. Now I realize that the plantation must have been set in the ground through the remains of an orchard that was planted when this land was first settled and was part of a pioneer farm. Apples are a major crop in this part of Ontario, providing 25 percent of Canada's apple production.

I wander past the edge of the bush where two years ago a hurricane blew down many trees, topping some, completely throwing others wildly around. The owner has been at work here adding to the wood pile and cleaning out the toppled trees. The dogs love to run around in here as it is a great refuge for small wildlife and feral cats.

It's getting dark and I find the marker that leads me back from the edge of the field and bush, back into the forest and to my car. The end of the walk is only ten to fifteen minutes away.

As I head back to supper for the dogs and a hot cup of tea for me, or a glass of wine, I ponder the markers that I need to find my way. Goodness knows I've gone off the paths when they are unclear or filled with water that would top my boots or shoes, and then wondered where the dickens I am.

Do we have markers in our life paths I wonder? Are there signposts to show us which way to go? Do we recognize these or just live according to plans we've made at some earlier time?

It seems to me that sometimes things happen that act as an indicator that we should change the road we've started down. Not flourescent tape, but similar.

May you see the markers that say "Change where you're headed" so that you can avoid disaster or sadness, and follow paths that are meaningful, fulfilling and bring you the things you want in life.

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