Fate and Zinnia splashed through the water flowing over the Gulley Bridge. The narrow plank of wood was submerged under six inches of water. I stood on the other side of the stream in my snowshoes, considering an alternate route.
The stream at its narrowest is about 8 feet wide and separates the farm from The Orphaned Woods. In one direction it empties into wetlands that border our property. They were no more frozen than the stream itself. To the north, just over the pasture fence on our neighbor’s property is a bridge sturdy enough for snowmobiles to use.
I called the dogs back and soon I was lifting my snowshoes over the wire fence on the furthest edge of the pasture. After a few tries Fate and Zinnia found their way under the fence and were over the neighbor’s bridge and out of sight before I even got to it.
There were few animal tracks on the snow-covered path along the stream and I kept an eye out for a place to start walking up the hill and deeper into the woods where there weren’t as many brambles to catch on my snowshoes.
When I first heard the rumble I thought it was a plow on Route 22.
But as it grew louder and came closer, I knew it was snowmobiles. I was walking on my neighbor’s land yet still I was annoyed by the intrusion. I have only seen another person in these woods a few times in the eight years I’ve walked there. I have no right to complain about other people being in the woods, yet I do get possessive about them even if I have no right to.
Fate was running right towards the lights of the snowmobiles as they came towards us. But I know she wants no part of loud fast-moving vehicles. Both dogs fled the noise when I called them and we headed in the opposite direction as they made their way down the hill and into the cornfield away from us.
Soon the loudest noise was the crows calling back and forth to each other. Perhaps as annoyed at our presence as I was about the snowmobiles.
Snow fell as we walked covering our tracks.
I thought about how the longer I walk in the woods, the quieter my mind becomes, the more present I am to see what’s in front of me, and the calmer I am.
I know part of that is physical exertion. But I also know that being silently immersed in the woods is healing for me. It brings me back to myself and reminds me what’s real.
When I get back from my walks, I always feel grounded. As if, like the trees, I too have my roots in the earth.