Saturday, April 5, 2008

Reading the Forest

Today was one of those days when I felt very weak, very pained. I know it's because I did too much a couple of days ago, and when I do that, it takes a day or two for it to demand payback. My mind would have liked to have done a few things around the house, but I knew my body wouldn't stand for it.

However, my little dog Quincy has been so patient and it has been maybe a week since I've taken him across the road for a walk. I could have stayed home in bed and read my book, but I decided to read the forest instead.

As we first crossed the road (Quincy is learning to sit at my heels beside the road while I wait and check the traffic before we cross), we headed down an old woods road, the neighbor's dog barked and a wild turkey hidden in the trees gobbled. We continued down the road, me whistling several times, notes that go from high to low, something I learned about 30 years ago which will cause a turkey, wild or otherwise, to gobble a reply.

I got to hear about 8 return calls and each one brought a smile to my face. We continued on a bit, me with my ever-present walking stick, an old piece of bamboo.

As I've written before, I have to walk very slowly and stop a lot but eventually, we made it into the stand of oaks and Ponderosa. I glimpsed something off to my right, and saw that four lovely deer stood about 80 ft. away. Quincy was great: he didn't bark or try to chase the deer, he just looked at them and stood very still. This looks like the same four that hang out in our back yard, one is a full-grown female and the other three are youngsters, one much smaller than the rest.

Eventually, they tired of me and took off at a slow trot.

And I continued on in the opposite direction, toward the creek which I could now hear as it gurgled over little water falls.
I spent a lot of time standing still, resting, looking up the hill on the other side of the creek (perhaps for that mountain lion we saw last week?) and out into the hayfield and just praising God for this incredible place so close to home.

I ambled upstream and noticed several willow branches along the trail that had been recently rubbed, the bark gone in spots revealing reddish patches of under-skin wood. Bucks have been rubbing the itchy velvet from their antlers here.

I broke a few face-high twigs away from the trail, figuring I might be helping the deer who trod here, as well. Up the creek a bit, I found a large Ponderosa pine toppled neatly across the stream. With few branches, it made the perfect bridge for someone or something other than shaky me.

It didn't take much for me to realise this was the perfect resting spot and thus I sat and enjoyed the water below me, looking for tracks (all deer) as evidence of what was crossing and drinking here. Quincy bravely crossed over on the log and scouted out the other side. He is now trained to come back quickly when I say "Hey!" so I yelped him back and he figured out how to get back over. Quite the smart, one-time city dog.

Beside me were the roots of the toppled tree and I noticed deep holes down in and around those roots, so I explored them with the end of my bamboo walking stick, wondering what I'd do if some animal leaped out of there into my lap. Nothing happened, and soon, I knew I needed to tackle the hill climb toward home.

Inching up the obscure deer trail, stepping over the barbed wire fence which had been collapsed by another fallen tree, watching always up ahead for Quincy and keeping him within hearing distance, I made my way up to my next resting point, a boulder next to the trail, situated under the turkey roost tree. I know it's a roost because of the droppings on the pine needles at the base of the tree. I always wait 'til the trail has led me above the tree a bit and then look back and up into the branches to scan for turkeys. I do this because I cannot look straight up into a tree anymore. I haven't seen any birds up there, though, and I know that's because they roost at night.

A crow winged silently overhead while I, in intense pain and weakness, trudged in little steps up and up. Not really steep, but any incline is steep to whatever is wrong with my legs. As we approached the side of the road again, I asked Quincy to sit at my feet. He didn't understand, so I pressed his backside a bit, he sat and waited while I, the wise human, checked again for traffic.

When I hear no cars or pickups approaching, I always tell him, "Okay, go home!" and he races across the road and through our front gate and up the hill to our house, stopping in his kennel to lap from his water dish. I give him the remainder of the granola bar, pieces of which are the omnipresent training-treats for our walks.

I stop by the shop to say hi to my husband and he lets me know he was a bit worried when I'd been gone longer than usual. This is surely because of the cougar sighting. I told him that I'd had to stop and rest a lot. But it pleases me he's watching out for me.

1 comment:

Zoe said...

Your husband's not the only one watching out for you!!!!
The Father up above is too~
I'm so glad for that.

love ya,
zoe