Thursday, January 30, 2020

Wild and Untamed

Recently someone mentioned that some new walking trails had opened up in our town. The town purchased and converted a golf course that had been closed for years into "open space." I couldn't wait to go and check it out. I've been looking to get more exercise and have found that walking and hiking really work for me. I love the peace and quiet. I love nature.

Over the next few days, I explored the area with a friend, with my family, and by myself. On the first visit I realized immediately how much I liked this quirky patch of land. I just couldn't pinpoint why at first.

Is it scenic? In spots. But the land is right up against the highway and in many spots you can hear the cars constantly buzzing by. Power lines stretch overhead. It's not particularly organized. Paths meander and then disappear; at one time I'm sure they made more sense, when they led to different holes on the golf course. Some paths are overgrown with brush. One literally drops off and disappears -- a stream down below wore away at the concrete over time. You can see nature trying to reclaim the space, with tall weeds growing out of pavement cracks and bushes once trimmed spreading clear across the walkways. Several of the wooden bridges crossing the stream are closed due to disrepair. Those that aren't feel a little sketchy as you walk across.

There are places where you can leave the paved walkways and cross over trails that look like they've been mown in the grass. The grass trails are short cuts but also muddy and can confuse you further as far as where you're actually going. I followed one not long ago sparkling with frost. I had no idea what I was doing, because I could see a fence in the woods that marked the very edge of the entire property. I didn't turn just then, because in another moment I saw it -- a deer bounding ahead of me, deeper into the woods, leaping above branches that littered the ground.

The words came to me, as I lumbered up a hill, trying to find an actual trail once again. Wild and untamed. You see that kind of language in advertisements; brochures -- "Explore this untamed wilderness area in all of its natural wonder."

This had once been a very different place. I tried to picture it with neatly trimmed, emerald green grasses rolling on and on, and little white golf carts trolling around. I couldn't, because I hadn't seen it. The spot was a more exclusive one back then.

At one time this place was perfectly manicured. But was it beautiful?

I don't know, maybe not everyone feels this way. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. But put together and meticulously groomed does not always equal beautiful.

Thank God.

I think I like these trails because they aren't trying so hard anymore.

I think there is something beautiful about meandering, about wandering, about things unresolved and unpredictable. Or, I'm learning to see things that way.

I see a little better as I walk over bridges with patched holes; through grasses with pricker bushes that poke my legs; past the zoom of cars and the flight of deer oblivious to the noise.

No, it's not tame, and I can't help but think of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

But it's good.