Friday, November 27, 2009

river walking

For a number of years when our children were young and we didn't have horses, we rented a lovely cabin in the mountains for the week of Thanksgiving. Over time, we accumulated a series of day trips we loved so much we did them year after year, until we had a very full week awaiting us each November when we packed the car and headed west.

There were always at least two days devoted to staying at the cabin and hiking the surrounding 50 acres. One day we went to a small college town nearby and window-shopped, then lunching at a little vegetarian cafe where we had chili served in pumpkin bread bowls.

We usually went to another little resort town one of the days, where we played in the big park and ate lunch from the hot dog stand, ending with homemade peppermint ice cream from the candy shop.

Another day we usually played by ear, and explored places we wanted to go back to or found new things to do.

The day after Thanksgiving was almost always devoted to a trip to a waterfall, which had hiking trails that were easy, moderate, and difficult. I remember one year taking all the time we needed so that my not-yet-two-year old daughter could hike the entire way on her own feet, which she insisted on doing. And I recall many anxious mother moments when my son went darting ahead of us, or scaled something I felt needed spotting to climb.

At the end of the hike we had a favorite restaurant we ate in, always ending the meal with strawberry-rhubarb pie.

I think those years cemented all of our love of the mountains and walking by rushing water.

But then we got horses and it was difficult to leave for that long.

Today we drove the few minutes from our home to a favorite river walk. The water was rushing after all the rain we've had, and it was chilly today so it feels like we're actually in November.

Kyra the Corgi scampered along on her purple leash, game to climb anything, including the huge rock outcroppings that in some places required careful footwork and holding on to tree trunks and branches to get up and over.

There was no one else on the trail, and after a few minutes, it was as though we were far out into the wilderness. I discovered some years back that the secret to being rejuvenated by these hikes is to go far enough to experience remoteness.

And now we're back home, and it occurs to me that part of why we went to the mountains those years was to gain what we have right here in our own backyard now.

It's one of the things I'm most thankful for - the haven we've created here, and the access to remote places without having to take a trip to get there.

I hope everyone is having a nice day today. Whether you celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday or not, it's a good time of year for reflection and gratitude, moving toward the winter solstice and the new year.


Grey Horse Matters said...

It sounds like a wonderfully peaceful day spent with the most important people in the world. How nice you can all enjoy doing this together.

billie said...

Arlene, it was lovely. Now the two teens are having an overnight with grandma and I'm debating whether or not the horses *really* need those blankets tonight or if extra hay will keep them warm enough!

ponymaid said...

Billie, that sounded quite magical and restorative. Emmmmm, did the nephews accompany you? I feel sure it's an expedition they would relish. Just think of the heights (and depths) Redford could attain! We donkeys are born trekkers and would especially enjoy the after-walk snacking.

billie said...

Sheaffer, there were several sections of the trail where we had to climb up over six feet or so of rocks, and while I feel sure Redford and Jack would not blink an eye, I have a feeling you and Rafer Johnson would prefer to head back toward civilization and, as you mentioned, after-walk snacking.

I have visions of Redford and Jack atop the rock outcropping, scaring The Woman AND myself near to death.

All those crevices where tiny donkey hooves could slip and fall and even worse. Makes me cringe just thinking about it!

The nephews had a lovely gallop 'round the front field this afternoon, while Salina stood up top and had some grooming done. Aside from the hoofbeats on the ground, I distinctly heard the sound of clacking donkey teeth as Rafer chased Redford. They put on quite a show.

Michelle said...

Your recollections sound wonderful... I also spent some time in the wilderness over the weekend. It's amazing how just a brief sojourn from daily life can realign perspective and refresh you. You are so lucky to have a haven so close to home so you can have the best of both worlds - your peaceful walks and your horses!

billie said...

It's so true, Michelle. I'm glad you too got the chance to get out in nature and come back refreshed!