Yesterday, husband and I took a break and a hike, wandering for many miles by the water, over hills and in the woods. I can't even remember the last time we did this.
This is one of my favorite places on the Island, a little bit of a local secret. Anyone can find it, yet, thankfully, most people don't. On a winter day, it's possible to go for miles without seeing another person.
When we first got together, this was a lot of what we did, walk around and hang out and now, so many years later (this is a kind of euphemism for the fact that I can't do the math right now on how long we've been together...) we do this maybe once a month.
I don't know exactly what happened...chores, home, art...But I do think it's high time we change it. And, actually we now have a small, but extremely important goal to work towards. This spring we hope to hike a very special mountain together. If you know me well enough you may guess which one it is. Anyway, we're excited to get some packs, take more hikes and work up to it.
It was cold and windy on the shore, but so pleasant.
A little ways into the woods there's a gnarled old giant. Who knows how old this tree is, but based on its size and location maybe at least three, four hundred years. There's a new small tree sprouting out of its arm, indication maybe, the next stage in its life. On this walk we discussed when exactly trees die, the moment they fall, or a few days after. If flowers can artificially life in a vase for days, if provided water, then surely a tree is still alive for a while after its fall?
We often have weird conversations about life and death when we go rambling.
Speaking of rambling, one of the things about America that I really can't get used to, is the concept of private property being off-limits to hikers and gatherers. I just find it so absurd that there's a line on even the loneliest of hillsides denoting yours, mine and ours.
In Scandinavia, we have something that loosely translates to "every man's right", a law pertaining, literally, to everyone's right to use, enjoy and walk the land. Just because someone owns a piece of land doesn't mean others can't go onto it. Of course, certain rules govern such use, to make sure that the owners still have their safety and privacy. You are allowed to harvest wild foods, but not hunt without permission. You are allowed to walk the land, but not camp without permission, or go within a certain distance of someone's house. You must close all gates. You must be respectful.
I understand of course, that rules that apply to and work in a country of five million, may not work in a country of two-hundred-and-fifty million, but as America's public lands seem to be in an eternal decrease, it makes me wonder how a country that used (and still does at least so far a national branding goes) pride itself in being wild and free, has gotten to a point where nature is either fenced into parks, logging company leased clear-cuts, or someone's private backyard?
Parks are great. I know, because I'm lucky enough to live in one, but often they are only accessible by car, and in these tight times, cost money, if you're lucky enough to live somewhere where local and state governments haven't outright closed them. Meanwhile, there might be a forest right next door to you, that no one uses, or who's owners can't even see to the far edges of their land. What would be the harm in you walking it?
"This land is your land, this land is my land." Not. Rant over.
I will say though, whenever you get the chance, Go Trespassing. See if anyone cares. Be respectful. But walk where you want to if you feel like it. It's the small every day acts of rebellion that often empower us the most.
We found a new-to-us trail leading from this rocky outcropping to one of our favorite beaches.
We found treasure and left it where it lay.
We skimmed stones and admired the fog, the rain, the birds. We walked.
We went home to make Lauren's chili and corn bread. It was delicious in spite small additions and subtractions. I used squash instead of meatless ground beef, left out the sugar and replaced the Guinness I forgot to buy, with some sweet PNW IPA. I've never made cornbread before and was super stoked it worked out. Next time I'm going to replace the spelt flour I used with rye and see if it still holds together. Cooking in the winter is one of my greatest pleasures and indulgences.
Where do you like to walk/hike the most?