Yesterday we returned to the Rocky Knob Trail
to try, try again.
Just 35 feet from where we turned left, last week-
the left that led us down the hill and into the
Mountain Laurel Wilderness…
a wilderness of self -doubt, dark forests and skinned knees…
Just 35 feet further from that early mistake, was the real trail…
…the trail with its own clear marker, orange blaze and numbered sign post just like the guide book had mentioned.
We enjoyed the Rocky Knob Trail yesterday,
another lovely summer day with a cloudless blue sky.
We saw a long, black rat snake making his lazy way across the trail.
We recognized the steep descent and the pretty vista that we’d read about.
The boulder field was less impressive, covered with sixteen years of moss and understory since its magnificence was first heralded in the guidebook’s pages.
We had a 4.3 mile “moderate” hike, just as we’d imagined, the week before.
When we got home, the “new” edition of the guidebook had been delivered by Amazon.
(This “new” one is only 6 years old.)
I tore into its pages, eager to read the updated copy for Trail #54,
ready for vindication with the mention of a first trail to the left that might deceive and lead one to the wilderness-
the wilderness of self-doubt, dark forests, and skinned knees.
But the “new” guidebook’s copy on Hike #54 was verbatim to its ancient forebear.
The font was only slightly smaller and the cover of the book, changed to blue.
I raked out the garden yesterday, my semi-annual encounter with the ghosts of our former homeowners-
lovers of hosta, bishop’s weed, Solomon’s seal and columbine.
Apparently, they were also immune to poison ivy as it features prominently in the garden- by design or default, I’m not sure.
Twice a year I step among the big rocks-
once in the spring to remove the detritus of winter,
and again, in the late summer to clear away the fading flowers as the yellow leaves begin to weave their fall carpet on the garden floor.
Curating a woodland garden takes restraint:
not too much fussing,
Nature gets her way in this design.
And so, it is with reluctance that I step inside,
place the few mums that I’ve purchased for jewel-tone pop of color,
and pat St. Francis on the head, wiping a spider’s web crown off his cement dome and the lichen from Jesus’ chin.
The next day I wonder at the turn of the seasons
as I gaze at my work
and scratch the poison ivy rash blooming on my arm.
When you are a vegan and you are stuck in an airport for 24 hours
(delays, cancellations, rebookings)
you had better bring your own food.
You see, we want comfort food, too, when we are told that
our plane is late,
and that we will not see our home,
or loved one
until a time much later than we had imagined.
Travel weary, we want to slide into a booth, order a spirit,
and then select from a menu that just might have among its items something like a veggie wrap,
or barbequed lentils with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy,
or a hummus plate with pita bread and veggies.
But America loves its meat, covered in cheese:
Sausage and Egg Biscuit with Cheddar
Ribs and Cheesy Grits.
We don’t want the stale, flat tortilla chips and watery salsa that you offer,
or to be told, “Sure, we can do the Brussels sprouts without bacon, but they’ll be fried in the same fat that the bacon’s been cooked in,”
and we don’t want to eat flaccid French fries for dinner.
If I eat another vegan “bar” as a “meal replacement” I might die.
OK, I won’t die, but I’ll be sad.
Upon arriving home,
I was never so happy to see my stove.