The calendar may have proclaimed it was Spring on March 20, but nearly a month later she has yet to spread her tender wings at the 45th parallel. In Northern Michigan we seldom feel the warmth of the birth season of the year until mid-May. But that doesn’t mean a hike in the woods is crossed off the calendar.
It was a balmy 52 degrees today as I entered the woods on the North Country Trail near home. This in-between season needs its own name. How ’bout Winspring or Slowtomelt or Abitofeverything. The mix of a foot of snow, to a few inches of snow, to bare needle-covered ground to mud patches makes hiking very difficult. My knees and hips can bare witness. My hiking boots make a plethora of noises — crunch, swish, whompf, shh, floop, mush, whoopsh, ahhhhh, and more. Up and down, back and forth, waddle here, springy step there; I can testify that this is he hardest time to hike in my woods. Snowshoeing in three feet of snow is much easier than bumbling like a drunk clown through forest litter.
(Note: See the smiley face ridiculing me!)
BUT, it was 52 degrees! And that means, when I take my 15-minute pause to enjoy the Write portion of my Walk & Write I can sit in the comfort of warmer winds and feel the sun on my face as it rises higher in the sky than it does in December, January, February, March. What a difference than trying to sit in the woods in 15 degree temps and an icy wind soaking into your finger bones as you attempt to hold the pen.
There are no flowers yet. No endless blue skies. No leaves on the maples. No gleam to the pine needles. Yet, there are signs of rebirth. The moss is getting brighter. Birds are returning. Forest floor plants are shifting from listless brown to hues that make the heart sing.
As I leaned against a rotted stump whose wood had formed a perfect backrest, I absorbed my surroundings, noticing the miniature village thriving around me: Baby lacy lichen beginning to form its own forest upon the old wood’s top. Last year’s leaves transforming from brittle bits to mushy liquid gold. A tiny spider falling down upon my journal to see what this stranger was doing. Bits of moisture waffled between humus and dirt.
There are always surprises waiting to be discovered even though I have hiked this trail a dozen times or more. Creative art scattered across the landscape by the Ultimate Artist. I can’t help but feel like I am home. A part of home. Gaia.