I can remember walking around these woods as a child. Admiring the rocks.
In town, there are decks for sunshine and summer days. Everywhere else has spraypaint borne of boredom and ennui.
I'm returning to this place, shortly after a snow storm on the third day of the new year.
I am wearing an orange jacket, but fortunately not hearing too many gunshots -- for once. The paths here are fairly numerous, some of them going up the hills. Uncle Google says they continue a fair distance, o'er towards the state gamelands (pow pow), themselves just a stone's throw from Hopewell Furnace and the Crow's Nest Preserve. I'm sticking to the paths that I know, or think I know. The ones that I remember from when I was a kid.
I have lots of memories of the rocks here, and the creek. Skipping from rock to rock, near the roaring rushing water. I promised not to get wet, not to fall in, and perhaps also not to tell my mother, but inevitably all of these things always happened.
I wasn't interested much in hiking as a kid, so I only distinctly remember hiking along this path with my dad once. The walk seemed to go on forever. And indeed, on this enchanting winter day, the walk is going on for quite a while. I amble through the woods, following the compass of my memories.
The ground here is soggy, with numerous puddles, and quite often it is rocky, and full of tree roots as well. Certainly these trails are less kind towards the feet than those at nearby parks and preserves.
My boots are fairly well-cushioned. Warm, insulated, and waterproof, allowing me to wade into the water a bit as I point my camera at a nothing-in-particular that moments earlier seemed to be a something-in-particular.
As a kid, I'm sure I did not love the rocky ground, nor the pricker bushes, or the humidity come summertime, but I am sure that I loved the forest. There forest has always had a magical atmosphere, a freshness to the air, and an abundance of life. Maybe, 75ft or so above me, I spot a downy woodpecker. I'm surprised I get a decent shot.
Eventually, I come to my destination: the trestle bridge. It's been so long since I was there last that it's been fenced off, and somehow I didn't know, or forgot. I crossed it as a child, fearful of the depths below. On this winter day, it certainly would be unsafe to cross, even if it wasn't fenced off.
I take an alternate path around and return home. That's how it goes sometimes.
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