Nearing the end of a trail

This morning I got out of bed, threw on some clothes, and headed into the woods for two hours. I wanted to stay longer, much longer, if not for the no-breakfast-yet lightheadedness and the need to start the work day at the desk.

I was making trails again. What has become one of my top 5 favorite activities. I’m not quite sure what it is, but there’s something about clearing a way through a tangled wood, a way to enable access into those hidden wilds.

Caden has caught the path making fever, of course, this nature child.  Perhaps remembering along with me what it was like to walk and work on Bill Coperthwaite’s trails:

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We drag brush aside, we line with logs, we pull up dead trees, we pluck off low dead limbs, we stand back to take in divergent possibilities, choosing to hear the trickle of the stream below by going here or passing this cedar with a gnome door there. We finish a section, then go back to retrace those steps along the cleared path to see if we trip anywhere, or stray branches scratch against us there, putting down wood shavings from Josh’s planing to mark the way.  And then we continue on with the next section. Or Caden branches off to make his own trail into a woodland play spot he has spied.

Me, I’m working on paths to more camping spots on the other side of our stream, and to the blueberry-raspberry-blackberry patch we discovered on yesterday’s exploratory walk through the woods with visitors.

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Sometimes I’m alone making paths, and it’s the best meditation-exercise-zen-nature time I could ask for. I don’t do well with a sit spot.  Not that I don’t enjoy it, but just that I don’t think to do it, to go out and just sit.  Trail-making on the other hand is such an invigorating and inspiring way to interact with nature. I can’t wait to do it, despite coming back home with sticks in my hair, bark down my shirt, scratches all over my arms and legs, pitch on my hands… Like I’ve just wrestled a bear through the forest and survived to tell about it.

I think about where the paths are going and how it feels to be on them. And I think about who inspired me to make these paths every time I pull a fir tree sapling out (to keep them from crowding out the other slower growing trees).  And every time I put more wood shavings out in a line.   Mr. Coperthwaite.

A path in the woods
is a poem
written with an axe
– Wm. Coperthwaite

I think about the feeling of his trail and seeing the peek of his yurt through the trees, knowing you are nearing the destination.

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And this is where it feels we are right now. Seeing the end of a trail we’ve been walking down for almost four years.  Two weeks from today we will be putting up the first support posts on our own wooden yurt.  Posts that Josh and I planed this weekend.

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Together.  A rarity around here. But thanks to the children happily occupied by visitors, I walked away from a pile of dishes and gave Josh the five minute warning that we right then had clear time AND clear weather to get this last of the wood planed. These 4×4 and 8×8 posts that will support the middle and upper yurt tiers.

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I wasn’t quite sure how it would go, remembering our first canoe trip together almost 20 years ago when both of us tried to steer at the same time. We haven’t canoed since…

We often divide and conquer. I dream, he does.  He talks, I think.  I plant, he mills.  He chainsaws, I play tag with the children.  I wash dishes, he planes wood.   He takes care of the children, I work.  I dig new garden beds, he builds an outdoor shower. He makes a new humanure hacienda, I make trails.

But we came together this time and it went splendidly (phew). And it was fun.  Almost like unwrapping present after present, seeing the outer wood layers shaved off to reveal intricate, smooth patterns beneath.  Patterns we will look at daily for years to come.

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Two weeks to go…

5 thoughts on “Nearing the end of a trail

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