By Pamela Noel
Special to Plumas News
I just took a walk with a friend. Deciding to meet at 1:30 — when hopefully, the fog would leave the valley, and sun would shine its vitamin D on us for a couple of hours — the day deciding to produce a beautiful afternoon.
Starting out, walking north and east through American Valley, we were alone — no phones, no screens, no traffic, no one but the two of us. Much of the time we don’t even need words. Just the fact that we are out here together is enough. That is the value of a good friend … being able to be who we truly are with few explanations or permission needed.
As the sun warmed my back I looked out towards Mt. Hough, the mountains still dusted with snow from the last storm. The first day of winter officially, was upon us. And, even though we need the precipitation, I can enjoy the lack of it at this moment. Interesting how we can look at past, present, and future events, holding them all simultaneously, in our minds … having different feelings about each aspect. Past reminds me of the fires we had last season; the future is a wish for more rain and snow; and the present is just … the present … the sunshine on my face; the breeze whispering in my ears as I walk on the trail.
It’s good to walk with a friend — the need for silence giving way to the gentle trickle of all that is needing to thread its way out of the mind. No pressure, no stress, no inquisition … just permission to allow the weir of consciousness to let out what needs to flow free in conversation. She listens. I listen. Just the action of voicing what is usually silenced in this “extraordinarily isolating time,” relieves, relaxes, and refreshes.
True friendship is a treasure. The ability to be in another’s presence without pretense, without anything to prove or need to impress, is rare. The ability to lose any self-consciousness with another person is a gift. And to be able to walk with this person across a sierra valley in the middle of a pandemic, when so many are confined to 1000 sq. feet or less of a concrete and glass view, is a feeling like few others.
We come upon a flock of Canadian Geese, and their “hollow in the wood-like” honks. After strolling away from our meander towards them, acting like they really were not concerned about our presence, they finally rose into the air — 6 large bird bodies lifting off, the sound of their wings, giving voice to the anti-gravity strength and power they possess.
Hearing what sounded like a hawk call, that shrill shriek, became a single dash in the clear afternoon air. Or, as my friend said, it could be a jay, mimicking the hawk. I wanted to believe it was actually the hawk, having no room for pretense today, even on the part of wildlife.
Walking back to where we started, we now faced the wind, the sound louder in my ears, reminding me of being at the beach. Our pace seemed to slow, not out of fatigue, but because we did not want our afternoon sortie to end. Even though neither of us wanted to stop walking, duty and afternoon shadows spoke to the oncoming reality of our day. We have jobs to do. We have other aspects of our lives to live. It will soon be cold. But most immediately, we have this beautiful afternoon walk into the sunshine to be grateful for. We can take this feeling into the darkness of the evening, warming us with the memory of this perfect stroll.