Beyond the Fence
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau
There are so many beautiful places in the Hudson Valley. Our scenic landscape is plentiful with lovely day-trip opportunities chock-filled with hidden alcoves and woodsy trails that run along the majestic Hudson River.
A few years ago, another mom and I began a weekly walk in the woods at just such a lovely place. This mom and I meet during school hours at the same location and time, every Thursday. We spend an hour following one of a few hiking trails that lead down to the Hudson River. The terrain offers great exercise, which was the initial motivation for this weekly excursion. Rarely, do we miss a week during the school year, switching days if we have to, in order to keep our walking ritual. We’re committed. In the winter, my walking partner even brings snowshoes for us to wear.
Over the years however, our weekly jaunt has become so much more to me than just another walk in the woods. Aside from being one of the fastest passing hours of my week, it is by far, one of the most meaningful and treasured hours of my week and it is spent with another mom who has become a cherished friend.
From the moment we meet in the parking lot a conversation begins. We never really know what direction it’s going to take and we often cover many topics. By the short time it takes us to get down to the entrance of the trails, we are in our walking groove; me on the right, her on the left, always.
There is a large fence with a small opening that you need to pass through to gain access to the where the trails begin.
Beyond the fence, magic happens. Every time.
Instantly I begin to feel all that is heavy on my heart and mind lift and dissipate. Everything about my life comes to a soft, grinding halt. I can breathe again and I do, deeply. The tempo of the woods is slow. The environment is serene. I am safe to say whatever I need to, knowing, that what is said in the woods, stays in the woods. There are no judgments there, only trust. It’s where peace lives and friendship grows.
Sometimes, we sit on a wooden bench over-looking the train tracks that run along side the river and take-in the beauty that surrounds us. It’s so easy to lose track of where we are in the forest, although we never get lost. And while time seems to suspend itself, I hardly ever check my watch and we always end up back at the fence in just about an hour’s time.
Inevitably, we leave much behind to rustle among the leaves and rest upon the limbs of the trees we pass each week. A collection of thoughts, hopes, fears, tears and an abundance of laughter mark our path. And Undoubtedly, I always leave, taking more with me; more clarity, more gratitude, more courage and more hope.
Spring Break and an amazing trip abroad with her family has kept us from our weekly ritual for the past three Thursdays. I am missing the secret keeping woods that magically remove me for one hour, once a week, from life’s daily stresses. I’m missing my friend, my confidant.
I’ve never taken our woods, walks or words for granted. I treasure them all, more and more, each week.
And I’m not going to “out” my friend or the location of this special place as much as I did my Book Club.
I’ve only taken four people beyond the fence.
Sometimes something that special needs to stay that way. Special.
What I am going to do, is say:
“Thank you, for taking me beyond the fence, dear friend.
I look forward to seeing you again, next week.”
Tell me, do you have a special place, ritual or friend that you cherish?
Photo Credits: me