In the middle of February, Anna and I decided it would be a good idea to start winter hiking. Why not, I thought. After all, I hate the cold (I know, I live in Maine), but I love the beauty of the woods, especially the ones here.
So it would be next Saturday, a day when our husbands and children rolled around on the mats during their weekly jiu-jitsu class.
Anna and I discussed where to go and for how long. Since we love our families and want to spend as much time with them as possible, we figured being home after lunch would work out perfectly for everyone.
Thankfully, the Androscoggin Land Trust has miles of marked trails in our backyard. Off we went, taking pictures and breathing in the bliss of beautiful Maine.
For our first trip, we decided to meet up with others from the Land Trust. But in Temple fashion (our maiden name), we arrived late and proceeded to drive Anna’s little lightweight car into a small snow bank facing downhill. Since we had no idea where our party was, we stuck around to get her out. Her skinny, little tires spun while I pushed and rocked her car back and forth until she sprayed me with a light brown sludge, the kind that can only be found on the river shores of Maine on a bright sunshiny day. Soon after, Anna took over and I sprayed her back, by accident of course, and she, the tough woman that she is, pushed her little car to safety.
After our great adventure in car rescue, we snapped on our snowshoes and walked down the middle of the Androscoggin River. I have to say, I felt somewhat god-like. I mean, for the first time in my adult life, I was walking on water, albeit frozen, but it was still water. I’d done this a thousand times as a kid, but the possibility of falling through the ice never touched my mind. On the Androscoggin, nothing cracked and nothing split, so we walked across on into the woods.
There, we met up with a few Land Trust members, and we found a bag of Cheerios a small boy had dropped along his way out. His mother had appeared frazzled but still in good spirits when we passed them on the skinny trail.
Anna and I lunched at some homestead ruins that overlooked the river. What I would’ve given to live in such a spot, where cars seldom sped by, and clumps of snow slid off branches then poofed into a fresh bed of white clean crispness.
On our way out, my hips hurt, and my breathing was labored, but I smiled bigger than I had in a while. Seasonal Affective Disorder burdens my mind in the dark months, so getting out in the sun turned around my winter blues. This trip helped me realize maybe I like the cold, at least I do while hiking.
Next Saturday, we would go again. This time to a place where the snow banks were piled so high, we drove past the trail head ten times before we finally spotted it. And then Anna walked up and over the bank only to sink to her knees on the other side where her forward momentum carried her face first into the snow below. She laughed it off.
We walked along a stream with foot bridges and pine cones and no noise of traffic. The only sound was our voices and the tromping of our snowshoes punching through a thick layer of snow.
We ate our oranges and nuts, homemade granola honey balls and red bell peppers on a circle we’d cleared under a patch of sunlight that broke through the trees just for us. We laughed when we talked about how the next hiker to come through would think a herd of deer had stomped out a path and bedded for the night. Then we stopped and sat silent. We breathed in a moment of tranquil bliss in our Maine woods.
I love my life, I love the moment when it’s okay to be slow and to be quiet. I love the place where it’s okay to just be.