Off Into The Woods
By John R. Greenwood
A Sunday walk in the neighborhood brought me to the top of Hilltop Drive. Hilltop Drive is a blacktop road to nowhere, or so I thought. It curves up toward the sky line where you find a turnaround surrounded by galvanized guardrails. In the far corner of the turnaround there is a path carved deep into the woods. It called me to come and visit. The snow was not deep but I also wasn’t prepared for a hike. I paused briefly-- seconds later Hilltop’s blacktop was nowhere to be seen. With each step the scenery changed.
The variation kept pulling me to the next rise, the next outcropping of rocks. Water trickled from surface springs. Stonewalls lay smothered under a hundred years of maple shed. The volume of the singing birds kept increasing. Their excitement evident as they skirted from branch to branch, like happy tour guides anxious to show off their hometown highlights. I stopped from time to time, not for rest, but to absorb my surroundings. I was just beginning to worry about how far I had traveled when the trees separated and opened up onto a trail christened with two sets of fresh snowmobile tracks. The trail was wide and clear. It pointed up the mountain and pointed down the mountain. My wife would be starting to worry. Instead of heading back the way I came, I decided to follow the snowmobile tracks downhill toward the main road. The woods were welcoming and invigorating. I was glad I chose to leave the blacktop and venture into natures arms. Now as my spontaneous safari was coming to an end I began to hear the sound of cars again. The steep hillside was behind me now and I was sure I could see the dark shadows of a large building. I had an idea where I might exit the woods. I was curious to see how close my estimate was. I was not surprised to see the familiar sign of a garden center about one mile south of where I first entered the woods.
I was about three quarters of a mile from my house, the entire walk probably consumed about three to four miles. It was much more satisfying than doing them on a treadmill. As I climbed the steps to my backdoor a sense of renewal warmed me. It wasn’t the accomplishment of a high peak but it did revitalize me for the day ahead. That’s the way it should be. I left the house searching for something and I found it. It was another circle that brought me back home better than when I left. Do I smell bacon?