A place I know by heart

I walked today with my camera, on this trail I've walked and loved for almost 30 years, before there was even an official trail.

When we first bought our place, I'd ride my horse down the road to the trail crossing, where the county piled brush to block sight of the sturdy bridges they'd just finished building. There were no trail access parking lots, no signs, no official trail. In the early days, there was only a wide gravel easement that ran north, which the power company used to get to their power lines. It was a great place for a gallop, and it became our favorite place to ride.

It's such a familiar place now. In winter, there's the rare sight of ice fringing the creek, snow falling, and the herons returning to their nests. There are bitterly cold mornings where I bundle up in fleece and down, pull on a wool cap and warm gloves, and jog instead of walk. With spring comes skunk cabbage in the spring-fed creeks that run downhill to the big creek, and a carpet of snowdrops, legacy of an old homestead that once stood here, in the flood plain of the creek. The farm is long gone, but the flowers live on.

Summer's heat brings the chatter of young moms pushing baby strollers and the sight of berries bursting into bloom. The air is still, and the hillside springs dry up (and so does the horse trail, my favorite place to walk).

Autumn is my favorite time to walk, scuffing my feet through fallen maple leaves, looking for the rare salmon in the creek, listening to the wind in the trees and the rush of small spring-fed streams, tumbling down the hillsides to reclaim the horse trail.

It's a magical place. It's my place.

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