With A Refreshed Spirit
When my daughter was suddenly left with no transportation (her car won't run, and her husband's failed inspection) and needed a ride to the emergency room, I did not have the reserves to handle the stress and loss of sleep. Happily, her problem was a rare but not a serious one. However, I lost quite a bit of sleep the next few days, until we could squeeze in the time to get my son-in-law's car repaired to pass inspection.
I'd fallen behind again, of course, and began struggling to catch up. I was so tired my judgement was skewed, and I slept very little each night, in an attempt to gain more time. Instead, I found myself working very slowly, and more than once my head bumped the monitor when I fell asleep while trying to work. Other times, I'd have trouble sleeping, I was so exhausted and consumed with stress.
I thank all my faithful readers; judging by your comments I was really able to do a passable job writing my story for Cathy's challenge. I didn't have time to edit and polish it as I would have liked, however, and I was unable to judge the result, since more than once I didn't even think I'd be able to post it in time. It was a real struggle.
At last, I was forced to admit that I needed to allow myself enough rest. I was trapped by now in a pattern where I was too anxious about unfinished tasks to sleep, so I decided to take a day off. This Tuesday, I slept as late as I could, then went to a nature sanctuary some distance away for some relaxation, and some much needed physical exercise. It is a place I've never visited before, but it was perfect for supplying what I needed. It is isolated, and filled with seemingly endless paths.
In fact, near the entrance there is even a sign-in sheet where you are required to list your licence number, and the number of people in your party, so rescuers can be alerted to look for you if your car remains in the little parking lot after dark. Some of this is no doubt to coddle city dwellers who have no idea how to handle themselves out of sight of "civilisation", but there are so few people about there is some justification for the concern.
It is a setting that easily allows the visitor to imagine they have slipped into some delightful fantasy world. During the whole time I was there, I didn't encounter anyone else on the trails, and the peace and the beauty of nature rested my mind and eased my spirit. I allowed myself to become carried away, and plan an ambitious trek that would let me see several noteworthy landmarks, including a glacial boulder and a giant, ancient oak. I enjoyed myself taking photos of everything that caught my imagination.
Most of the trails are so isolated no noise of traffic can be heard. At one point, while in the deep forest not far from the giant oak, I heard a rushing noise, which I first took for wind heralding a sudden storm. Quickly, I realised it was a plane, and feared it was going to crash into the trees. Instead, it turned out to be a pair of military jets flying very low. The forest grew very quiet after they passed; even the chipmunks and squirrels that ran everywhere through the leaves seemed to be sitting very still.
After about five or ten minutes, in broad daylight, a great owl broke the silence with a very clear "Who, who?". Since this was far too early for any owls to be abroad and hunting, he must have been complaining of the terrible noise which woke him up. If I imagined the planes as great dragons flying over the forest, it was a moment of pure fantasy.
The atmosphere was so peaceful and full of wonder I even calmed down and forgot my modern fears before I'd gone much further. Having watched the horror of 9-11 unfold on television, immediately following a physically and emotionally draining family crisis, my first thought upon realising military jets were racing somewhere was to wonder if there'd been another terrorist attack.
The odd thing is, that although I returned home to find nothing on the news, the next day, Wednesday, a private plane crashed into a Manhattan apartment building, and fighter jets were scrambled, some from an airfield where they would have needed to overfly the sanctuary I'd visited the day before. I don't believe there is any real significance in this, but it is one of life's odd coincidences.
I kept walking, enjoying my surroundings, and the fantasy atmosphere only deepened. The trail reached a point fairly close behind the very few private houses in the area. Someone in the back of one of those houses was chopping wood, or working on a carpentry project, because hollow booms echoed through the forest. Unlike most sounds of human occupation, they were not intrusive. Instead, they sounded like a great drum beating off in the forest. At one point, the ground even seemed to shake beneath me at the sound.
I pressed on until I came to a small pond where beaver and otter are supposed to live. None were stirring while I was there; it was just a bit too early for that. It was a nice, peaceful place, though, with the brilliant foliage of the trees on its banks reflecting off the water. Finally, I realised the sun was low enough that I really had to head back lest I find myself marooned in darkness while still in the midst of the forest.
I had no doubt I could survive the experience, and perhaps even make some progress by prodding ahead with my walking stick. Still, I was hungry and thirsty by then, and preferred to get back with as little trouble as I could. The path took me over more rock outcrops, and I had to scramble over one or two formidable stone walls, but at last I came out in the little meadow not far from the parking lot, just as the sun was setting.
I spent a few minutes enjoying the sunset in the meadow, sitting on a bench in front of a tiny frog pond. Then I walked to the parking lot, and stood admiring the other side of the sanctuary, which I hadn't had time to visit at all, as dusk fell in earnest. Although this was the time the beavers and otters were supposed to be active, I was just as glad I wasn't trying to navigate an unfamiliar trail in the rapidly fading light.
I spent the next day, and most of today, dealing with those things that really needed taking care of. Now I hope to be able to post more frequently, and to get around to adding links to the blogs that have recently linked to me. I also want to adjust my template slightly, and to put the list of entrants in my contest back on top. I do want to warn all my readers that some of the things that are happening in my life may make it difficult for me to post much from time to time. I have no intention of abandoning this blog, however, so please keep visiting.