Monday, March 14, 2022

The unknown solitude seeking woodsman

Shortly after passing this abandoned camp in the woods, I notice fresh human footprints in the fallen snow.  In both directions.  A walk out.  And a walk back.  I keep riding.  At my own pace.  Following the footmarks.  Around each corner, glancing as far ahead as I can see.  Just before reaching my own turning point, I finally spot the foot traveler.  Turning off the main trail.  Around the closed gate.  Steadily continuing down the well beaten snow path that he later tells me leads to his backyard.  An older fellow.  Sporting olive rubber boots and a very well worn work hoodie.  Do I say something?  I don’t want to scare him.  Before I have the chance to decide if I should ring my bike bell, he slowly glances back.  Hi, isn’t it a gorgeous day to be out in the woods?  He smiles and agrees.  We end up talking for over 15 minutes.  We never exchange names.  But he does tell me that he’s 72 years old and that he does this very walk out to the edge of the meadow and back twice daily.  It helps control my blood pressure.  And also boosts my mental health, he adds.  I can’t help but smile.  How he spends his days really sounds like something that I would be doing at his age.  He asks me about my bike.  And we talk about politics and how kids nowadays don’t go outside much.  Even if I have never met him and still don’t know his name, I feel a certain connection.  In our endless longing to be out alone in the woods.  In our need for solitude.  In our understanding that wandering through the forest’s silence calms our chattering mind.   Close to 3 hours of pedaling.  The snow dancing as it steadily gravitates towards the ground.  Wondering about all the stories inside this abandoned camp.  And ruminating on my short conversation with the unknown solitude seeking walking woodsman.  Yeah, this was a good day…


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