Isn’t it funny how one hour can make such a big difference? The day after daylight savings time ends we get one extra hour. Sixty more minutes to devote to whatever we please. Maybe sleep. Yes, for most of us it’s sleep. It’s only one hour but it makes the day feel extra long, like a time lapse in the universe which allows us to squeeze in a little bit more. It feels magical, don’t you think?
Having an extra hour on a stunningly beautiful, golden autumn day meant there was only one thing I wanted to do: hiking. Which isn’t surprising as this is often how I use up extra time on gorgeous days (an example here.) So with a giant to-do list to tackle later in the day looming ahead, I savoured the extra bit of time and headed to Limehouse Conservation Area to explore a section of the Bruce Trail I have not yet been on. My goodness, why did I wait so long?? Each new section elicited an audible gasp, as I tried to take it all in and immerse myself in the beauty and uniqueness of the trails. Caves to traverse, nooks to discover, old lime kiln ruins to explore. And never mind the magnificent fall foliage ablaze and glowing in the low slung sun.
Shadows + Silhouettes
Only an hour adjustment but it makes all the difference. The angle of the sun altered, the slanting shadows cast and scattered in new patterns across the forest floor. The world looked different. It felt different. I felt different. Everything had shifted an hour.
I go on hikes alone not to eschew company, but to revel in my solitude. It is not an isolating act, but one of hard-earned and protected aloneness. Not lonely but alone. My meditation. A way to turn over thoughts and ideas in my head with the equalizing and balancing force of nature as my companion. A way for me to find my way in the chaos of everyday life. It is so easy to become disoriented by the ceaseless cacophony of rings, and notifications, and reminders, and information. Oh that incessant barrage of information. On the trails it is me and nature. Perhaps other people too, but ultimately only in passing. As I discover new places and find my way on new trails, I feel empowered, renewed, recharged. A calmness permeates each neuron as many of life’s uncertainties no longer feel so threatening. They just are. A part of life and not an indication of being lost. A shift in my perspective. And I need that reminder often and hence the regular solo hikes.
I took pictures along my hike today, as I often do, to preserve some of the images on something more permanent than the canvas of my memories. And to share. With you, with my family, with my friends. I snapped and marveled. As I veered off the main trail onto a side trail,
I mindfully put my phone away my phone battery died. And I am thankful it did, because perhaps I would have missed it. A little patch of forest where the trail widened, a sort of clearing, with woods to one side and the escarpment dropping off to the other, with a carpet of vibrant yellow leaves blanketing it all. A tree stump beckoned, and so I sat. I listened to the birds, an insistent woodpecker especially making its presence known, and the occasional distant purr of motorcycles, an airplane, reminding me of my proximity to civilization. A nearby river provided a hushed and constant warble. Golden maple leaves, still clinging to branches, seemed to flutter and wave without a detectable breeze. I felt like I was sharing my breath with them. The earthy perfume of drying leaves thickly covering the forest floor mingled with the heady fragrance of pine and cedar. The cerulean sky pierced the canopy with jolts of colour. I stayed for a while. I stayed and sat and breathed and felt the earth.
Contented, I moved off my perch and continued on, grabbing a small handful of pine and cedar: aromatherapy in the palm of my hand. I felt like I was moving through chapters of the forest, as each new part of the trail revealed another layer of the plot. New colours, new sounds, new trees and foliage. New emotions and sensations.
As I reached the end of the trail and emerged on a local road, I came upon a couple of hikers who looked up and asked “Are you lost?”, though in their case what they meant was “We are lost and are you in our boat?” I replied “No, I am not lost” with a smile on my face and believing it with every fibre of my being. I helped them with directions and re-traced my steps back to my car. My phone batter dead, but my body, mind and soul recharged. If only for a little while.
Stay A While