Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt: Hike
Via Daily Post: Hike
Different approach to today’s prompt. An experience from my personal life.
It was our first trip to Saratoga Woods. My German Shepherd, Buffy, led the way as usual. The early morning air was cool and wet. Fog draped the green, needled spires. A sloped meadow met tall, dense cedars and pines, the path beckoning us into the darkness among the trunks. We stepped lightly through the meadow, the disturbance of dew our only tracks. Into the somber thicket we went.
Once among the bark-clad columns, awe illuminated our surroundings. Light filtered through the thick canopy, bright green ferns reached their fronds skywards. Moss clung to branches, rocks, anything offering purchase. Steam rose from the forest floor in columns of light where the sun’s rays could fully penetrate. The silence of the meadow was replaced by bird songs and squirrel chatter. The hidden world within the forest presented itself to us without reserve.
The windy path lead up the hill. We followed trails with names like “Indian Pipe” and “Twin Flower Trek”, the etched, wooden signs hung on trees, aged by the elements. The beginning of the trail a delicate rise, we padded through the forest, snapping pictures and enjoying the beautiful environment.
We came to a steep trail, which Buffy enthusiastically chose as our continued route. I huffed as I followed her up the rocky way, eager to reach the apex and catch my breath. As I crested the final hill, I had to pause to take in the view before me. Nestled in the elevated woods, a long, narrow meadow spanned into the unknown. Wild daisies rose above the unkempt grass, swaying slightly in the breeze. We continued on to explore the magical field.
A small, rain dependent pond full of tadpoles distracted us for quite some time. Picking up the tiny creatures and studying them in our palms transported me back to my childhood, and I found myself laughing with wonder and glee. Eager for more exploring, we continued on.
That was when this run of the mill, no big deal, just for fun hike, truly turned into something amazing. This meadow lead into a tunnel of trees. My faithful companion led onwards towards this channel, and I stopped to snap a picture. It was a moment that burned into my memory, and I can still feel myself standing there, looking into that tunnel and wondering how something could be so incredible. I felt like I was looking at a path leading to a world of fantasy.
I don’t remember the rest of that journey as clearly as I remember the beginning. Perhaps I really did travel into a fantasy realm and had to leave my memories behind. That amazing trek would be the first of many trips to those woods, and I would spend countless hours there with Buffy. As she aged, and her arthritis in her knees weakened her body, our trips to the mountain top meadow happened less often, and eventually we were only able to make it to the meadow at the base of the trees. I have such fond memories of that hiking trail because it became me and Buffy’s place. We owned that forest.
January will mark the second anniversary of the absence of my companion in my life. Having spent my teen years, journey to adulthood, and part of pregnancy with Buffy at my side, it is still a painful realization that she is no longer here. The pain is not as sharp as it used to be, but it is still an ache that can never be quelled.
Some day I will take my daughter to Saratoga Woods and we will take that hike. We will visit the place where we can feel her guardian beside us. We will look through the tunnel and see my faithful companion smiling from the other side.
Five days ago I decided to start doing the daily prompts that Daily Post provides. I had previously scrolled through their posts and ignored them; just another auto subscription in my feed. I had been arrogant in thinking how simplistic a one word prompt was, and how my imagination could craft so much more with additional direction for a story base. Why settle for a word like “Happy” when I could use a sentence like, “Explain how the cow got on the roof.” Yes, I am a human and I am full of myself sometimes.
Long story short, I have been surprised at what a simple, solitary word can evoke from me. Strangely, I almost feel that the words are being catered to me personally, although I know that’s a silly notion. It just goes to show, that when I choose to give something new a try, regardless of my reservations, it can turn out to be an act that I truly enjoy. Not only are prompts flowing from me easier than before, I am achieving my goal of writing and practicing my art every day. Bigger and brighter isn’t always better. Sometimes, simple and soulful has amazing results.