Friday, September 26, 2014

New Trails, Old Trails and Alternate Paths.



There's a wonderful park system where we live. Land Grants and National Parks, State Parks and nature preserves. There's a new one right down the road from me. The trails are developed  but the entrance was just opened and the parking lot and rules of the trails installed. I love to hike and walk and stroll parks with my dog, and my husband when he's able, and my kids if they will.

Our New Dog Hudson is happy to oblige. Since he was a puppy I've observed his behavior in new settings. What I noticed across the board is that he only hesitates for the briefest moment, is pensive only for a breath, before he decides to move forward, and walk right through. Around the corner from our house at the beach there has been new construction. A house being built all summer long. Drills and hammers and loud machines. Trucks chugging, men digging and scraping. We have to walk past it all to get to the water source he likes to explore. Sometimes he stops and just observes what the work crews are doing amid the noise and haste. He hesitates only for a moment but then walks right through. I decided not to drag him through to encourage him not to be afraid, but to follow his lead and just wait. When he's done observing, we move along on our way. My husband has told me that when he walks him, sometimes he just stops and  sits down, seemingly in protest. He wants to go home. When he was a younger puppy, he did that a lot. You forget their legs are still short and they've only played in the confines of a gated 'community', a pen, with their siblings while they awaited the trip home with their new folk, their new family.

As we walk the new trails down the road from my house, I note his excitement and mine too, but a slight hesitation even though there are trail maps on a sign as we get out of the car, and they seem cut and dry. They always seem cut and dry, but

often, it takes me a few times in, to know it by heart. For the red trail and the yellow trail and the and the blue trail cross at times. They overlap and I'm left to decide which path to take. I'm a kinesthetic learner, I learn by doing, and having done.

I took an alternate path the other day- I was talking to my dad on the phone as we hiked along. It was a beautiful early autumn day. As usual, I hadn't left enough time really, to do the hike I would have liked to do. I wanted to get Hudson out for a nice jaunt before my art class, when he'd be relegated to his crate for a few hours. In conversing with my dad,  I took a different offshoot than I had the last two times I'd been here- I was remarking to my dad, how we'd only been here once when, Hudson took to the trail running at warp speed, like it was in his bones to run this trail. Like he knew it already by heart. In marveling at this, I realized I must have missed the entrance back to the trail as we were no longer on the stretch along the open fields that I recognized.

I'd taken an alternate trail.

I told my dad I'd have to go since I had to get to my art class and I needed to find my way back. Dad's don't like to hear you've lost your way on a trail out in  the woods.

Perhaps I should rely on Hudson's nose. He's proven it to be very good. On the beach this summer he found all kinds of souvenirs, 4 of which had human scent. 3 hair bands and a pair of headphones. I had found this quite interesting. I trust his nose more than I trust my own eyes. I picked up a cute greeting card once with  child drawn stick figures of a person and a dog. It said, "If your dog doesn't like someone, maybe you shouldn't either." and it quoted a 6 year old.

When we get to a stream we need to cross, Hudson eagerly stops to drink. The trails are forged by horseman and where you enter and exit the stream are soft, hoof-impressioned mud cakes. I am wearing nearly new tennis shoes. I choose the side where rocks that peek out of the water line the creek, but there's a down hill edge that's wet and more inclined to horse hooves than to Saucony Cross Training shoes. I take my time. My Yoga and Mindfulness serve me every day. Hudson has easily completed his crossing not stopping to think.

  Mindfulness is his way of life and he never shuts his yoga off. He awaits for me eagerly 15 feet beyond the crossing, concerned for me, watching where I've decided to place my feet and the stones I choose to use to get across. I've eyed up, of course the ones that look sturdy. I think Hudson bypassed them all and just leapt over the whole darn stream, intending to land on dry, stable ground. He's crossed this trail before and it only takes him once to know.

I can try to follow my steps back from where I think I came from, or  I can take an alternate trail and see where it goes.

I think I'll take the alternate trail and see where it goes. By this time now, I've entered on the blue trail, strode the yellow, I've found where the red trail sides up and walked that too. I hear there's another- the grey trail, maybe I'll dip into that one too. I note his excitement, and mine too. If I can't readily find my way back, I'll ask Hudson to assist. I trust his nose, but I trust my own inner compass too. Together we'll get there. together we two.