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Hike

April 10, 2020
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McCormick’s Creek

The first thing you notice is the silence. The quiet comes on you almost suddenly. One minute you are surrounded with noise, the next you hear the silence.

First you are oblivious — oblivious to the rush of tires on the highway, indifferent to the sound of doors slamming in the parking area, senseless of the radios that suddenly blast into life as people switch on their cars, preparing to leave.  You hum a bit to the tune that’s stuck itself to you when you turned your own radio off.  Afterward, when you enter the woods, sound begins to recede, although you don’t notice right away.  But the silence comes, before you even know you are ready for it.

Backpack on, boots laced just loosely enough to allow your feet to swell without pinching, you walk. You carry a stick, because that’s what backpackers do. At first, you talk. Great weather for hiking. Aren’t the colors beautiful? Did you see that movie last week? The one with the car chase at the end? It was nothing like the book. Boy, this pack is heavy. How much food are you carrying? Too much, I guess. At least it’ll get lighter after dinner. Backpacker humor.

After the talk dies down – there hadn’t been much to say, anyway – the silence slides in, almost imperceptibly. The hum of car tires, the buzz of electricity, the constant interactions with people, the symbiotic connection with machines – all fade to silence. You hear the squeak of your boots, but you are quiet. And then the forest begins to speak. A rustle of leaves, the gurgle of water in an unseen creek, the hoarse call of a crow, the thump of acorns falling to the forest floor. This is stillness. This is silence. You didn’t know until just now, but this is what you’ve longed for all your life.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mrs. B permalink*
    April 11, 2020 7:09 am

    Thank you for reading, and thank you for the reminiscence of your move to Texas. I like your description of the “comfort of a deep and heavy, thick silence.” That kind of silence is indeed a comfort, I must agree. And it’s good to hear from you WiLsSoN!

  2. April 11, 2020 2:54 am

    Silence. When we moved to Texas we were in our 60s, and had already moved far too many times. After three days on the murderous highways, in a small car with 3 cats, we arrived. When I turned the car off I could hear and feel the comfort of a deep and heavy, thick silence.
    We were about 90 miles West of San Antonio, in the foothills of the Texas Hill Country, on a 20-acre…not a farm…not a “ranch,” …a “parcel” of land, I reckon. It was 20 acres of rugged native terrain that we’d share with 20 or so deer that lived there. I can remember the comfort of that silence that we lived in, in less-than-comfortable circumstance for 16 months. I think it did us good in some ways.

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