[The reader will note that I often write about paths. There is much wisdom to be learned on a path through the woods, but it takes time and many trips to extract that wisdom. Paths are sacred.]
A well-worn path through the woods can be a pleasure for the eye to see and the feet to experience. Many trips have been made along this path as it’s a shortcut to get from here to there, and everyone who lives around here knows it. It’s a local secret, and every place in Maine has its secret paths that only the locals know about. And the trees. The trees know about them, too. They offer up their roots almost as little stairs to help along the way, little footholds to guide you and keep you safe.
I love being on this path. It beats a city sidewalk any day of the year. The ground is much more yielding and comfortable on the feet. There is no hardness. Nature is everywhere, and yet there is somehow the organization of man as well. It is an unobtrusive organization, which just goes to show that it can be done, that man can exist at the same time with nature without being at odds with her. Man can be a part of the whole.
|An easy path through the woods.|
This path naturally follows the easiest way through the woods. It’s not a straight path, as a sidewalk would be, but an easy path. That means that it takes the simplest course with the fewest obstacles and the gentlest terrain. Someone at some point long ago broke this path afresh and began following it, and others soon used it because it was the simplest way and it had been revealed to them. They reinforced and seasoned it and turned it into a place where people can walk but not intrude on or disturb nature. I’m so very glad that no one has ever suggested we pave a way through these woods. I think everyone is content with things as they are.
There is rain, of course, and the mud that follows. Sometimes deep snow and ice make it treacherous, although there are always those who, like me, continue to use the path even in the worst of weather. It is true that during these times asphalt would be easier and safer, but then we wouldn’t be on the path, we’d just be on some road. When I’m on this path, I know where I’m going and I feel at ease as I go. When I’m on a city street, I’m lost.