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Community Green: Finding the trail, wherever it leads

By Pamela Noel

Special to Plumas News

He disappears into the forest, taking the trail up…up…up… into the mountain crevice, now parted by a rushing creek. After crossing the water, he comes around a bend in the path, his gaze riveted by the richest most jewel-like green color of moss clinging to the side of a tall granite outcropping. Begging for his hand to touch its vision-penetrating color, he feels it—soft, yet sturdy. It seemingly clothes the granite itself, only waiting for the touch of a curious walker coming up the trail.

I sometimes quietly accompany this walker on his sojourn onto the trail. Having my own lazy moments, however, I occasionally need an initial push to go outside the door. But, as soon as I am on my way, smelling the wild freshness of trees, water, soil and plants, I am pulled beyond any remaining hesitation to go forward. The trail takes me higher, up into the mists. At the same time this wandering leads me deeper into myself,   connecting the experience of wilderness with my own desire for aliveness, awareness, and attunement….

Climbing down through the prehistoric-looking, segmented shoots of horsetail, we find a rock that overlooks a small waterfall, surrounded by a dark and deep-appearing pool. Ripples spread from the cascading fall into the water, pushing out, lapping and disappearing onto the granite-sourced sand. Resting in this place, the sound of falling water overtakes all thought. Allowing the sound to push into me, the water carries with it the magic of restoration, reclaiming that which becomes lost in the hurried business of “daily living.”  (Isn’t this free and natural experience what daily life could be?) We are part of nature…made from the same elements. At the very least, this experience can be a part of grounding ourselves in our day…every day.

And when the encroaching shadows suggest that it is time to return back to the four walls that are supposed to protect and warm me with familiar comfort, I hesitate. My pace slows. I don’t yet want to go home. There is something so much greater out here. The wind plays my song. The water soothes. The tree scents cleanse my lungs. The soft loamy path softens my footsteps. I am without connection to humanity. I am quiet… only connected to myself and all that encourages the best of me to surface.

Spending quiet time in the woods seems to erase artifice and inauthentic interactions that sometimes become part of our daily, habitual behavior. There is no one to impress here. There is no mirror to check the state of one’s “look.” That tree on my left has no expectations of me.

Shadows increase, making the trail darker. We are not prepared to stay, so we head down the trail, letting the scent and feel of this day linger as we quietly make our way back. I don’t want to lose the feeling of the walk, though I am fortunate to enter this place whenever I feel the need. Its magic does its work, helping me to recycle, letting go of what needs to leave; thus discovering the most natural and truest version of myself. And with the glow of all the day has given me I can rest and relax in our return. I ask myself if there really is more. I don’t think so.

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