March 30, 2021



Wet pavement.

The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.  With each step, the wind blows, a flower blooms.

-Thich Nhat Hanh


Today, I decide to park in the parking lot across the street from the beginning of the Waldo rail-trail.  It belongs to an abandoned building that sits on that corner, so no one plows there.  The snow has been too deep for my little Prius to venture forth there without high-centering and getting stuck (I know this from experience).   We’ve been parking in a municipal lot about one-eighth of a mile from the starting point that provides parking for people who want to use the trail.  It is plowed, but not paved.  End result, in the warming temperatures, it gets muddy.  Which, of course, ends up in the car.  I’ve been keeping my eye out on the abandoned lot and there are now places that are snow free.  Problem is, there are also drifts that are too deep for my little car that separate those spots from the street.  The drifts have been shrinking and today, I decide to risk powering through them to get to a dry spot.  The car fish-tails, but I have enough momentum that I can blast through them without getting stuck.  We get out of the car — it’s so much better without the mud.  I lock the car and we’re off.

The temperature is ranging around the high thirties, the wind is still and the cloudless sky is a chilly shade of blue.  The deciduous trees thrust fractal-like fingers into that blue as if grasping beseechingly for the spring that is not yet here.  There is still plenty of snow on the sides of the path, but the tarmac is clear of the stuff.  There are a few shallow puddles here and there, from the melt draining across the path.  They can’t be more than a quarter of an inch deep, but they’re around four feet across and I can see in them a perfect reflection of the tree tops and sky.  Birds are singing, not so many as during the spring and summer, but they’re there.  I haven’t seen a rabbit or a squirrel around here for many weeks, but today, I do get a whiff of skunk.  Charming.

I quickly set my pace and put my gait on a mental subroutine that requires no attention.  One foot follows the other, I feel the muscles in my legs contract and the solid Earth pushes up on my feet as I put my weight down.  My quads and calves feel strong as they rhythmically force my mass forward and the going seems effortless.  The air is cold enough to numb my cheeks, but not so cold as to freeze my fingers in their gloves.  My torso is warm in my parka and I know that after two miles, about the time we hit the unplowed Hudson part of the trail, I’m going to be sweating.  It’s harder going there.

Waldo, he’s out-front, trotting along with nose less than an inch above the ground.  He forays off to the side and grabs at a stick in the snow, only to find that it is still firmly attached to the bush to which it belongs (the connection being covered by snow).  He goes back to lead position and continues on.  Before long, he veers off path again, this time deep into the surrounding woods and I have to call him back.  I have no idea what attracted him to go that way, but the suddenness of it speaks of something enticing.  I can see nothing that might have seduced his interest.  One thing is for sure – the temperature is made for a Waldo-walk.  No panting and no need to stop for a drink.  I don’t even bring any water for him.  If he gets thirsty, he just grabs a mouthful of snow.  He prefers that to water anyway.  The entire time we’re out, Waldo is in tune with the nature around him.  Except, of course, in those moments when we pass another human or dog – he has to try to say hello to everyone.

It’s not too long and we’re back to the car.  I put Waldo in the passenger seat, then I rest my now weary butt and back in the driver’s seat.  I can’t help but sigh at the relief of taking the weight off my feet and Waldo curls up next to me and quietly waits until we get home.  Another charge through the snow drifts at the parking lot and we’re on our way back to warmth, snack and rest.  Until tomorrow when we’ll do it all over again.  It’s never dull, never boring and never the same, because we’re never the same and neither is Mother Nature.

It’s a kind of meditation on the hoof.


Walking along, taking it as it comes.

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