The Power of the Mind

I resolve to stop the wanting, the pining, the reel of film in my mind’s eye. In other words, I decide to move on.

I wake up. Hot tea. Stretch. Then straight to the desk where I write 2,500 words for freelance in under three hours. The timeline flows, the words are there, and the first draft is a cinch. Moving on feels good already.

On Friday, my hiking buddy asked if I’d have time for a hike on Saturday afternoon. “Not unless a miracle happens at the computer on Saturday morning,” I told him.

The miracle happened and so I called him up and within an hour we’d met to carpool at the county line and headed into the South Toe Valley and my not-so-old stomping grounds. The clouds were thick with the anticipation of rain, though not a single drop fell. We had just two hours to hike before we had to get back to the vehicle for my buddy to get to work on time.

We started at the old boarding school and headed in towards the Marshall property, then across the fields to The Long Road Home, and trespassed onto the old homestead that’s being oddly renovated. There’s a little yellow cabin there that I like to show my friends, if for nothing else than the fact that it’s a throwback and it’s also rented out for $15 per month if you’re the right person calling the owner at the right time. Just as my buddy leaned his head towards one of the broken windows to peer in, I spoke up.

“You do see that snake there, don’t you?” I said just as his profile lined up perfectly with the side of the poised black snake, just six inches from his face.

“What snake? Where?” my friend said, still moving forward.

I put my hands on the back of his shoulders, ready to jerk him away. “Right there.”

He turned his head to his right and was practically nose to nose with a five foot long black snake, it’s triangular head poised mid-air with about a foot of it’s body leaning out from the wall of the cabin like an arm, ready to strike.

“Oh, that snake,” he said camly, then laughed nervously.

We poked around, though a little more carefully, and discovered a few more black snakes, relatively harmless though intimidating in size alone. (The biggest one I’ve seen here was six feet long and had just devoured a rat or squirrel.)

Time passed quickly as we marveled in wildflower cove, but not before poking around the old outdoor kitchen and deer slaughtering rock at my favorite abandoned house in the community. I pointed out black cohash, mayapple, jack in the pulpit, daisy, ramps, trillium, and iris leaves to my friend. We looked for tulip poplar blossoms and coveted the rainfall of teacup mountain laurel blooms.

Later, we crossed the creak and found the old forest road to make our way back in the direction of the gravel road and the river. At the next juncture, we agreed that if we ran, time would allow us to make it to Ohle’s pond, down across the grassy trail, onto the meeting house road, and then one mile back along the gravel road. We ran and ran, our conversation now stopped for lack of breath, the beating of our shoes through the forest sending a ripple of running squirrels throughout the rhodi thickets. After about a mile and a half of running, we came across some horses and riders along one of the roads who told us it was 4:30pm.

With half and hour to spare we high-fived and walked the rest of the way back to the car, gulping water and chatting the rest of the way.

What matters in all of this? Getting lost in the present. Letting myself be. Having no agenda. Losing track of time. Experiencing a well-rounded day. Slowly smoothing the crevasses of the heart.

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