On the Road
Only the Good Friday was created by Shelly over at her This Eclectic Life blog. Her idea is that she wants to post only “Good” things on Fridays, no matter what. Her attempt is to at least have one day a week that we all can accentuate the positive. If you’d like to participate, go HERE and get the guidelines and particulars.
I’ve had an interesting last few days. I did have plans to motor west. I was all set to get packed up and get on the road for a couple of weeks and get back to New Mexico. I was either going to trailer the motorcycle or just ride the Triumph right out of Wisconsin and into the sun. That didn’t happen. I realized that I’m needed around here, so I put off any traveling until Summer when the kids are out of school.
What I did do was take a short jaunt up to Ashland. Ashland sits along the South shore of the Great Lake Superior in North central Wisconsin. I used to live up there and I return and visit often. This particular trip had me filling water bottles, from one of the artesian springs, and picking up some pottery I ordered from a friend. I always get a chance to visit some old friends as well, so I was looking forward to a run up there.
The weather has been wonderful. Spring has sprung around here and we’ve had the sun, warmth and thunderstorms to prove it. The robins are pulling worms out of the ground at such a rate, you’d think we’re gonna have a sink hole if they take any more out of the ground! Even the nights are starting to stay on the warm side with temperatures in the 50’s overnight.
I was planning on meeting my potter friend on Thursday morning. I certainly could have left early and driven up there on that day, but I decided to do things a little different. I left at eight o’ clock on Wednesday night and pulled in to Ashland right around midnight. It’s a 175 mile trip from my house. Since I had the seats out of the van for some moving, I set up my bed and when I arrived in Ashland, I crashed in the van.
I have this big over length, over width, heavy duty cot, two of them actually, but I only needed one, and I set it up with my Big Agnes sleeping bag, right in the cavernous back end of the van. I stuffed my empty water bottle carboys in there, some CD’s for the road, and took off into the balmy night.
I tell you, I had such a great night’s sleep in the fresh clean Up North air along that beautiful lake. I woke up to a beautiful day and a little sunrise. I caught some breakfast at one of my old watering holes and went to the Black Cat Coffee Shop to meet my friend Eli.
I met Eli, (more about her and her work in another post very soon) all right, and thirteen other old friends, some of which had come around because they heard I was coming to town. I sat around and visited, drank coffee and just soaked in the morning life on the sidewalk outside, just like we had done when I lived up there. I have been gone for two years now and I can honestly say that really miss living in Ashland. My heart felt warm when I saw and greeted my friends. That was so nice and felt so "Good".
The highlight and the best part of the day was actually on the way home. As I traveled US Highway 63 South, I passed through Hayward, WI. On the stretch between Hayward and Spooner, the road runs along the Namekagon, (Nam-a-cog’-en), River. Near the small town of Trego, there is a short nature trail. I hadn’t been on the trail in years and I stopped and took a walk. Just taking a walk is a “Good” thing as I need more exercise in my life and sometimes I’m hard pressed to manifest a walk into my daily routine.
It had rained all morning on and off, but the sky was clearing and a South wind was blowing rather hard, drying things out quickly. I stretched a little, then took off down the trail. This path runs along the River along a ridge that dips down close to the water and rises up in places. It is completely forested with many kinds of pines amidst the oaks, birch, maple and willow. The landscape was still empty as the leaves on the deciduous trees haven’t really made progress so early in the season.
As I walked, I stopped from time to time and looked at the water. The life blood of Mother earth, passing by at a rapid rate. Swollen, but not overflowing its banks, from the Spring run-off, the melting of snow and the rain. The occasional swirl around a submerged rock and eddy’s created by fallen timbers. The land was soft, made so by the rain. It was silent except for a few sounds nature would make in such a place.
I remember that a friend had asked me what “Being Here” means, and the answer came to me that instant.
I was here. All around me was nature. The trees, in plentiful amounts, weren’t planted in rows for harvest in years hence by lumber companies, but scattered, by the wind and bird droppings and by the raising and lowering of the water in the river over running it’s banks each Spring. Trees of all shapes ands sizes and just like man, some tall, some short, young and old. Some bent and some straight, some with disease and some healthy. Some broken and crippled along with some just hanging around in clusters.
The rain had allowed me to walk in silence. No twigs snapping, no crunching of leaves. Every step was soft and quiet, and I heard no noise nor saw any activity around me. Absent were the squirrels, chip monks, rabbits and such that I usually see, and no birds were singing or flying, not even the crows. The wind was blowing and swirling as the storm that had just passed had created a change in the weather.
I stopped and was standing and looking at the water when I saw a flash below me. A huge hawk came out from along the bank and flew aloft down river, in front of me, then off to my left. I followed its flight and watched as it spread its powerful wings. It was the same color as the forest floor, browns of the decomposing leaves and gray like the dry side of the twigs, black like the earth and golden and copper like the pine needles. It was clearly right in front of me before it took flight, and I never saw it camouflaged against the natural world.
It flew, strong and swift, down river, then rose and went to the left, over the bank, high above the tree tops. I watched its form as the trees, empty of leaves, allowed me vision of the movement of this bird. It swept left, then a long sweeping curve to the right in a large circle and came back towards me. I stood there, motionless, and it came over me, right over me, at tree top level, I watched as it soared past me and on to the West, then another turn North and out of sight.
It was silent. I felt as if this hawk had come to see me. Why a hawk, why that hawk, right at that time, right in that space? And why was I there, the only car in the parking lot, the only one there, at that time, in that space? I pondered this as I started walking back along the Trego Nature Trail. I heard a bird singing, but saw no motion. I heard a woodpecker, but saw no movement.
As I walked, I kept my head up, anticipated and prepared for any more of Nature’s surprises. Then I heard the noise of the nearby roadway and the whirring of tires on pavement. I was back into the man-made world again. Just like that, like a switch had been turned on, I was back. I got into my van and traveled toward home, but with a peacefulness, granted to me by some force, some power greater than myself.
The series of events that started many days before this walk along a trail led me there, but none of the previous days movements were for the purpose of being there that day at that time. I was to take a trip, but I didn’t go. I went to Ashland, the times I left to travel there and travel home were determined by nothing but whim. The hawk that showed himself to me was by pure chance, and I am grateful for such a thing.
I laid down my tobacco in thanks for the experience afforded me yesterday. And I want to have more like that. It dawned on me, something I already knew, that to have a chance at being “Here”, you have to be here and pay attention. You have to look for it, be aware of it, concentrate sometimes, and seek it. Put forth the effort, so to speak, and allow yourself time with the natural world.
When I got back into the van to start the rest of my journey home, I took my time. I lit a "Good" Dominican cigar and turned on the radio. The CD that I had listened to was still in the machine, I picked up right where I left off with music that I consider Spirtual:
And even when "Here" is hard to find, it’s there, somewhere, and that’s “Good”.
Peace to all