Yesterday, yesterday I was behind two people younger and far more in shape than me, as we made our way through part of the Robert Frost Trail. I’ll be honest, if you were my friend, and you asked, “Tara, what would you like to do tomorrow, on your day off, while the kids are in day care, and the sun is shining?” Sitting in the garden at Esselon would probably be my first answer – while doing nearly seven miles of hills and dales, my last. It’s not that I don’t dig nature – or love a pretty look-out, or enjoy conversations that meander like the trail –but hiking, it makes me feel old.
It reminds me that my lungs don’t have the capacity they used to, that my calves must push harder than they have in years, and that I will be something that feels like sore, for the better part of two days. Of course, falling behind these boys who are in far better shape and a whole bunch younger than me, does nothing for my ego. Having them wait for me at the top of an incline, is terribly crushing to one’s sense of self. After the first two, I told them not to wait, I would catch up.
I’m more my gram’s grand-kid anyway, I started looking around, checking out the way the trail and the forest floor changed from tiny pebbles, to well packed dirt, to rocky steep inclines, to nearly sea grass lined. Besides, when one’s heart has made its way to one’s ears, looking down at your next step, it seems reasonable.
With the curve of the trail, The guys would get enough ahead of me that I would lose track of their voices for a while. The first time it happened, I panicked for a second. I looked up to see if I had turned off the path, or taken a turn onto another. But what I saw, was that I was on the same well-marked trail I had been for the last hour. There was, on this path, like on so many others, bright, white marks to lead the way the whole of the ridge. I had nothing to worry about, and as I came over the top of the next rise, I could hear their voices up ahead.
By the end of the day, I envied the path, and how well it was marked. Each turn denoted by a squared off swash of white paint, set against the rough of tree bark. I couldn’t stop thinking about the marks I was longing for, the signs I was seeking.
I have a terrible habit of asking Pops for signs. Sometimes it works, so perfectly tuned, so in synch with what I need, I lose my breath. The PT that will show right as the light is turning, after I sat there talking to the dash-board at the pause in the traffic. Or, the Hawk that will only show on weird occasions. Or, the way Duke lost in the first round, right after I asked him something significant. All those obviously explained away signs, I search for them everywhere, everyday.
The problem of course, is when they don’t show. Or, worse, when they don’t answer the way I want them to. I mean, obviously the whole thing is dubious, me searching for answers from a dead man, attaching significance to arbitrary things. But, it’s just I long for some guidance to this trail I’m on.
Just some swash of paint, is all I need, to let me know, that when I get over the next slope, the voices up ahead, will be familiar and kind, and that, as it turns out, I’m still on course.