Sunday, March 20, 2005

My Journal: 20-Mar-2005

I took one of my favorite walks on Plum Island yesterday. I parked the car at Hellcat Swamp, the last parking lot accessible to the paved road. I then continued by foot on the dirt road, which was pockmarked with potholes, helping to slow down any passing cars. There’s a quiet land of small trees and sand on one side and dunes on the other. About a half mile down the road, there’s an access road for the Pines Trail, but the road was still drifted with snow. It was easy to walk on though. In the field bordering it were four deer grazing. One lifted its head as I walked parallel to it but at least fifty yards distant. Then she continued her grazing, satisfied that I presented no clear and present danger. I took the lesson in hand, remembering it on the way back when some cars sped down the road despite the battlefield condition. But that was later and this was now.

I hit the Pines Trail. A woman walking past me told me that there was an owl in the pines, although she had not seen it. But the sound was clear. Which reminded me that too often we limit our reality to sight only. The other senses depict other dimensions of the real. To live by sight only is to inhabit a one-dimensional world. I’d say one dimensional out of five, but I suspect there’s at least one other sense, that extra-sensory one, that most of us seldom acknowledge. I stopped at the viewing platform, and sat on the bench, and soaked up the spring sun. The marsh extended miles ahead of me and the bay sparkled blue in the distance. A woman came to the platform about ten minutes later, laughing that I had found her secret place. We exchanged some pleasantries then each returned to the solitude. Mine was a bit forced though, trying to recover the moment. It’s interesting how one silent stranger can overwhelm my sense of privacy. I stayed for another ten minutes then bequeathed the spot to her, and continued on the Pines Trail.

I neither heard nor saw an owl. I trespassed the fifteen feet from trail to road on US property, although the footprints in the snow indicated that I hadn’t been the first. About fifty yards further south, I came to the boardwalk leading to the ocean. I walked through the dunes, sitting for a moment to breathe in the desert winds. Then I walked to the beach. Very low tide. I walked about a quarter mile north, and then returned. Walking north, one sees Plum Island stretch ahead, as well as Salisbury and Hampton, and in the distant, Mt Agamenticus in York, Maine. Walking south, one sees the sweep of Cape Anne capped off by the granite headland of Halibut Point. To the east of course is Atlantic. Its waves were small but strong enough to create their own world. One thing I like about walking the beach is the fact the ocean drowns out all other sounds. Its reality becomes yours and none other.

I retraced my steps for the way back. A great walk that passes through many different worlds. Early spring presents its wilderness untouched yet by most, and we become early pioneers of that new world. In the coming months comes the rest of civilization. Or at least more cars, walkers, and beachgoers. But I got in the car and drove back to civilization. I had forgotten the first law of distance walking. Bring liquids. I bought a quart of Gatorade and drove home.

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