The Road Not Taken--Robert Frost
I apologize if any of you had concerns about my being absent for a week. I was in a black humor at the beginning of the week and just couldn't face anything, much less blogging. I figured that it would be better to just leave be until things got better. Then things got better and I had work to do! Ha! Anyway, I guess I'll start off talking about Rowe Woods.
Last week I walked Lookout Trail. It's a 1.5 mile trail designated as "easy". It was, in fact, easy. It loops around through the woods across the road from Rowe Woods, proper and ends up in a big meadow also across the street. Then, after crossing back over, it winds without seeming purpose back toward the Visitor Center.
I've walked this trail many times. It used to be my favorite, back in the days when I could walk before Friend Husband left for work. I loved walking through the fresh green woods, seemingly separated from everyone by a break of skinny trees. I also took the girls and our former dogs, Sam and Frodo there many times. Here's an oldie but goodie from 4/2005. Look at how young the girls looked just two years ago!
I saw a good many beautiful things there last week. Unfortunately, I've mislaid my little memo book wherein I wrote much of it. I walked part of it again today, because it coincided with the Upland Trail and it was delightful. There are a few lovely little paths covered already in brown, dry leaves that just meander through the woods. Near the first bridge, there was a natural bridge consisting of interwoven tree roots away from which the dirt had been washed. Many times I've wished that I carried my camera into the woods with me (although, with the way my camera is acting these days, it might not have done me a lick of good) and that was one of them. There was also a giant, bleached tree that had fallen over and way lying in a small copse of brush. When I came upon it, it looked for all the world like a departed leader, lying in state. I had to shake my head to clear the thought but it remained nonetheless. Over in the meadow, there was a stunning weathered grey bench that I just had to stare at. I realized that I wanted to bring the children back and get their pictures taken on that bench, but just looking at the bench itself, weathered and whittled down to silver-grey wood was enough for me.
I have to explain something about the benches. Rowe Woods has a lot of benches, especially on the easy trails. Unfortunately for me, I haven't noticed them in abundance on the difficult trails but they are scattered everywhere along the easier trails. Last week I started writing down the words on the memorial plates that are attached to most of them. The stories behind some of them intrigued me. Of course, I don't actually know the stories but they gave me something to think about until I got to the next bench. There are also several bird blinds scattered throughout and all of the ones I've seen so far are in honor of someone. It made me wonder 1) how much a bench like that costs and 2) what the stories behind the people are. Many of them say what they are in honor of. Today I saw one in honor of a mother's 90th birthday and a 40th wedding anniversary. But many of them have the name and dates of the person and little else. The other thing that gave me pause was how many of them were young people. At least two of the benches I saw today were in honor of people who died in their 40's. Yikes! A good reminder that our lives are never guaranteed.
But now, along with the desire (nay, need) to walk all the trails, I also have a compulsion to document all of the benches, shelters, and bird blinds that are in Rowe Woods. Generally speaking, I don't get compulsive about things. In fact, over the years I've become decidedly counter-compulsive because I live with so many compulsive people and I figure that someone has to model being "normal", for whatever it's worth. But I do feel compelled to do this. And it was a bit irritating today because, as I said, there are so very many benches on those easy trails. I know myself, though, and if I got said bee in my bonnet, it would nag at me if I skipped the benches/bird blinds/shelters and just walked.
I set out today to walk the three shortest, easiest trails at Rowe Woods. I wanted to get an early start because it has been so very hot lately and I wanted to finish before the hottest part of the day. Since I stayed up unconscionably late (how long has it been since you stayed up until 2:30 AM?), I didn't get there at 7:30 but 8:30 was pretty good. I had planned to walk the Stanley M. Rowe All-Persons Trail first. It's paved and pretty much wheelchair accessible. Unfortunately, I read the map wrong and ended up on the Edge Trail. No biggie, that was on the agenda for today as well so I did that first.
The Edge Trail skirts Powell Crosley Lake and sports many boardwalks and trails right up next to the water. When my brother and his family were here for Thanksgiving, that's where we walked on Friday. It's a lovely little walk and I enjoyed the lake views, although the lake itself was rather stagnant and foul smelling. I was sad to see that some of the trees are already turning, no doubt in response to the drought this summer. There are some trails that just make me smile because they are cute or charming. There were a number of these on the Edge Trail. I guess they're hidden little trails that go back to the lake and such but I'll take my smiles wherever I can find them.
After the Edge Trail, I started on the paved All Persons' Trail. I didn't expect much. I figured that it would be a pain to build (and lay the asphalt for) a trail too deep into the woods and I had seen the beginning of it many times, as it skirts the main parking area. Once beyond the main parking lot, however, the trail goes back into the adjacent woods, touches on Lotus Pond (overgrown with algae and sporting humongous lotus leaves), goes around the prairie near the Abner Hollow Cabin, and then back to the main parking lot. What a sweet little trail! I was, of course, thankful that I could walk it (and gave thanks accordingly) but I was also impressed that the Nature Center would take the time to make such a nice trail wheelchair accessible for those who couldn't go on the traditional trails. Bravo, Cincinnati Nature Center!
By this time, I was hot and not a little cranky from not sleeping enough last night. I debated about going on the Upland Trail today. After all, I had walked a good mile, seen some nice naturey stuff and was ready to go back home. I finally gave myself a stern talking to and told myself to get my fat keister in gear and do that last trail. And, of course, I'm glad that I did.
I like trails that go through the woods. I'm just not a sun girl. Even when it's hot, I much prefer the heat under the trees than the heat in the meadows. The Upland Trail is mostly in the lovely woods, although it touches on the meadows in a few places. There were some mysterious side trails that I marked to try another time as well. Being the person I am, I just wanted to put in my time today and go home rather than having further adventures. At one point, the trail intersects a maintenance road that eventually connects with the overflow parking lot. When I'm out walking around, I'm definitely in my own head. When I came out of the woods to this intersection, there was a line of people walking down the road, obstensibly part of some sort of tour group. I probably stared at them blankly, being inside the wild and wooly Lori brain that I was and they definitely stared at me with amazement and curiosity. I don't know why but there it was. Maybe they thought I was a ghost or something, appearing as I did out of the woods all of a sudden. They passed and I passed over to the other side of the glorious, leaf-strewn woods.
I've been experiencing a puzzling dicotomy lately as I hike. When I first started hiking Rowe Woods, it was just flat fun. I got to walk the trail (Redwing) that I'd been wanting to walk for something like 5 years and I was enjoying the novelty of being somewhere quiet. Then I reluctantly decided to walk all the trails. I say "reluctantly" because, again, I know myself. My very own self is quite reactive. (No, really? You don't mean it?) I felt that if I committed to doing the trail walks, that I'd wind up rebelling against my own self and not doing it at all. Yep, I am that weird.
I seem to not be doing that (I do have a good, stern part of myself that admonishes this other rebellious part), which is good. But now I wonder if I won't/don't enjoy it so much because I feel compelled to keep to the trails so as to be able to check off another trail at the end of the day. I saw so many trails today that sang siren's songs to me...I would have loved to wander off and explore. But I didn't because of this trail hike thing. Which is completely counter to what I'd started doing this for in the first place. Both are worthy reasons to hike, so I can't clearly pick one or the other. For now, I've just told myself that it's enough to check off trails and I will return to aimlessly walking at some point in the future.
My first desire in hiking out there was to just take whatever trail suited me when I came to a fork in the trail and enjoy it. Get lost! Have a great time! My more prudent side pointed out to me that it would be even more fun to know the trails better before I went off on a wild hair like that so that I wouldn't be completely discombobulated and get lost out there overnight. Well, maybe not more fun but certainly more responsible. So I started walking the trails to know the trails, then came the trail hike and here we are. I surely wanted to diverge from the beaten path today and explore the trails that are not a part of any system. There were a couple of times today where I had an option of two trails and did choose the one less-traveled by and that tickled me greatly. One day, though, I'll have a glorious tramp through the woods and go wherever I want, if the Lord wills it to be so.
Well, enough navel-gazing and babbling on. I imagine that, if anyone is still reading this (hello there!), you're debating with yourself about whether, discretion being the better part of valor and all, it might have been better for me to keep quite just a leeetle while longer. Perhaps. I've never been one who displays great valor, though, so here we are. At the end of all things. At least for this post. I hope to come back another day with pictures from the twins' 3rd birthday yesterday. Until then, have a good day and pass it on!