Easy street

Somewhere in those trees is more than a portage trail. The path is the absence of trees.

One foot fall at a time, in an incessant pounding of mine and yours, trod by our favorite foot gear, creates and maintains the portal to which I will pass through. Me and my mind must hike this hall.

The lake surface I just paddled across was welcoming and cooperative in the gliding travel. Now with rocks and roots waiting to trip me, it feels like a challenge in a small way to want to go from the liquid, to solid scene change.

From my wide open watery surface the woods now fence me in. It makes my woodland march a restriction with shrubs and trees, and the earthen surface my sidewalk. My mind is talking. Don’t go off the path. You might get lost. Sunlight shafts probe the pathway. The air is suddenly still. It’s a tight feeling I try to shun.

Shouldering my pack, the kayak that carried me, moments before, I now bare the burden. Portages get me from one easy, to the next. All was wide open with soft water strokes. I scanned all the openness of a lakeshore seeking everything, spying the dark, a tallest, or the movement of a wild thing. Now each peek demands I concentrate. Focus or fall. See or stub. Branches poke at me, the breeze now held back and not allowed in, was just moments ago so refreshing.

Over my shoulder I check to see a small spot of water. I move slowly away as the lake shrinks from view. All the waves’ lappings have gone silent. Leaves high above, flutter, the air is moving up there and it quickens my pace to find the ever expanding shoreline in my future.

Could have been a bird, but I can’t look up right now. Watch the forest floor or land on it. A small dried deer track. Mud, sticks, old pine needles, Roots worn smooth, rocks, Lots of rocks to bend my ankles. Rocks, more rocks, birch bark wind ripped to the ground. I’m going past the sameness and my boots make no noise. Keep moving. I keep walking.

This length of walking is old air. Worn dirt. Narrowness from one expanse to the next. I feel choked in here. In time, I feel like I’m only in time. Just keep hiking. Maybe now I’m in the middle.

A stab of sunlight, the whiff of cooler air and then in small snippets the path gives up to the lake. Here now is my door throwing itself open before me. Each step, the ever widening lake surface seems to draw me in. The woodland walls behind me once again.

I set everything down. First the kayak, then my pack, I unload my head. I breathe in and gather all the light. My eyes go on a long walk around the forever shoreline. One last peek over my shoulder at the darkness I just walked out of.

I look back and make sure whatever I was carrying mentally through those woods, I give it back. I don’t want the weight of those feelings in my kayak as a paddle out and into the water. The wind blows the claustrophobic thoughts away and the sunlight cleans the darkness from my mind. Its back to easy.

The trout whisperer


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