Slow down, savor getting there

Nov. 04, 2013 @ 08:14 PM

Have we lost the wonder of walking?
Even though the pack on my back is heavy, and the equipment in my arms is cumbersome and the destination is almost a mile away, my feet and mind are enjoying this walk. I had come here to prepare a place to hunt a few weeks ago and can recall the effort it took to navigate the long meadow of tall grass and adhesive briars and that perspiration moistened my back.
I could have driven along these woods. I could have used the off-road vehicle and navigated this path. Yet, it felt appropriate to walk. It felt authentic to step over sticks. There was something natural about my gait and the melodic repetition of my feet in the soft mud.
Long before I began noticing my age by the few decades they are known by, I was as strapping and naive as I could be at the age of one-decade.
The trek — as I have come to appreciate a trek — from the farm house to the backside, which is where most of my relevant education has occurred through these decades, was, appropriately, long, arduous, cumbersome, tiring and frequently frightening, early in the day or after the sun is laid to rest. Still, there is something memorable then and now about these walks. On the way there, life revealed. On the way there, vision, enhanced. On the way there, breath cleansed. On the way there, time relaxed.
Today our manner of life and travel has evolved, and we have toys and vehicles that cross the same creek that we used to walk. It would seem that we are so hasty to arrive that one would wonder if along the way we are losing the intangibles of a good walk and the scrutiny a hunter hones by noticing tracks and trails, and where the acorns are capped and where they are not.
That day I lugged necessities into the woods. I paused along the way to witness inventory and to ignore the sweat on my back, for the life before me was too great.
That day, my feet to the ground and my eyes in sync, I was rewarded for the effort. With some distance between them, I found three wing feathers from an Eastern wild turkey; the distance from the first to the last was 70 yards.
Upon completing my work, I walked from deep in these woods and I followed a path of no course and my steps were soft. Amongst the fringe of trees by the grown meadow, I paused and, kneeling to the ground, placed the three feathers.
I think now about the steps I took when I was but a decade. Then, I noticed life closer to the ground. Now, my steps in this decade are sometimes longer, sometimes hasty, and upon finding a remnant of nature I am reminded of steps I took to this place.
Perhaps one day I will find these turkey feathers, again. Hopefully, I will find them while I wander, with feet to the ground, while I wonder.
Enjoy your time outdoors.

You may email Jason Hawkins at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com.