Stopping To Smell The Dirt

It should come as no surprise to my pals here that I went hiking last night – about four miles on one of my favorite local trails.

Fresh air and exercise beckoned all day. After all, it was about seventy degrees and sunny with blue skies as far as the eye could see.

Who wouldn’t be in a hurry to get outside on a day like this?

But once I got to the trail, I forced myself to slow down and really take in my surroundings. I’ve been tired lately, the kind of tired you just can’t sleep off. But it is the kind of tired that responds well to quiet, to fresh air and to standing still in a nearly abandoned forest.

Most of the tourists were gone for the day so, while I did see a few folks, it felt like I had the place to myself.

When this happens I like to stop, to close my eyes and absorb my surroundings. Here’s what I loved best last night….

The softness of soil and rotting leaves and pine needles beneath my feet. There is no more pleasant sensation than stepping down into this after a long day.

The drip-drip of water from the side of an age old rock. The wet winter and spring have left the waterfalls gushing and small streams gently rolling over the sides of cliffs and hills.

A woodpecker in a nearby tree. I can’t see him but his presence is clear and the rhythm he keeps overpowers all the other sounds of the forest.

The babbling of a stream as it winds through a narrow gorge, past boulders and under fallen trees. I wonder where it ends and what life it carries with it.

The spring breeze through new leaves on the trees and through my hair. Oh, how calming and cool it is in my hair.

The smell of earth, musty and yet vibrant. There is no other scent like it and one that I recall during even the coldest nights in the dead of winter. It’s amazing to experience in real life, especially on the first few warm days of spring.

The sad coo of a mourning dove. Let’s just say the name is appropriate.

A fallen leaf as it gently dances across the trail. It looks happy and aimless and sometimes I wish I could be so satisfied just going whichever way the wind is blowing. I’m good at that some days but struggle others and often think I shouldn’t have to try so hard to be carefree.

The way sunlight dapples a cliffside and creates unique patterns where there previously were none. But I know the light will change again and the art created by the sun will change or just altogether disappear – a good reminder not to let a special moment pass without notice.

The chatter of a squirrel who, moments ago, was barreling through the leaves, making believe he is an elephant. At least, I’m sure that’s what he was doing because that’s what it sounded like.

How many times have I prepared to meet my Maker because a squirrel sounds like a bear about to attack?

It was a peaceful evening in the woods and one I hope to replicate many times in my life. It’s sort of like stopping to smell the roses. While you may not be up for a hike in the woods, my wish is that you find a way every day to stop and smell the roses (or the dirt) and to enjoy life.

4 thoughts on “Stopping To Smell The Dirt

  1. Apologies – I’ve been off-line for most of the past week and I’m trying to catch up on my reader.

    What a lovely post – it sounds like you had a wonderful hike. I love those moments were life is peaceful and you can stop to breath and take it all in – it’s wonderful.

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