We didn't know it thenBut years later it would be these moments That would call us home
~"Scent Memory" :: Tobie Wahl & Phoebe Wahl, as excerpted from Taproot
I have mainly Autumn and Winter memories, I think. And I have memories that stand out as Golden. They sparkle, somehow. I guess we all have these, and they are treasures. There's that part of These Happy Golden Years
where Mary decides to spend her Summer with a friend, and Ma talks about how it will be good for her to remember, years later. She was right.
We hiked the Rowlands Creek Trail
yesterday, with falls as our destination. I hadn't walked this trail in such a long time that I can hardly remember when it was. It's near my parents' home, so it was very accessible during my college years and I spent a lot of time on it. Mike and I walked it together, but I think it was even before we were married.
I have memory of this place: covered in snow and the trees bending under the weight. I walked it with another love, as we often have others in our lives. Oh, it was magic. The woods were so quiet and special and my heart is full, just thinking of it. I am learning to say to myself that it is okay to have those magic memories and to love them. They are all part of the path that led to where we are now and where we will go.
The woods have changed now, as they do. The hemlock woolly adelgid has killed nearly all of the big trees that once bent under that snow. They are more open now, as the trees have decayed to the point of falling. Plants that love sunny spots have taken up residence, like stinging nettle and goldenrod. Even white pines have again begun growing in this once mature forest.
There came a Summer some time after that snowy walk, maybe a year later, when I walked that same trail to stave off the inevitable heartbreak that followed. I think I could have walked every trail in the forest and still not found the end, but time passed and my own woods changed. Now it seems like that life I used to know never happened, or is only a fuzzy memory.
The truth of these trails I share with my children, these walks we take in the deep woods and these windswept hillsides I drag them to, is that they are my life's story. It has unfolded on these same paths, shaded by trees both old and new. It has seen the flowers bloom and wither, the berries grow fat and ripe, and the land change while it stays the same.
All this sentimentality aside, we had a great time. The walk was shorter than last week, a 3-mile round-trip. We followed an old roadbed and railroad grade, the one that I guess carried out the giant hemlocks that once ruled these forests before the current generation fell to the adelgid.
The falls seemed different to me, less than those of my memories. I guess little stones had piled up and made the area more shallow. That, and it's the time of year when streams are naturally lower. All the same, the children were thrilled with the icy cold waters that took our breath away. We skipped rocks and made big splashes and sat watching the water as we had our lunch.
There were no snakes this time, except for the gummy candy ones I found at the grocery store. We saw a toad and a salamander, which was just enough. The mushrooms were vibrant and plentiful. There were partridgeberries and teaberries galore. And these berries from the Spring flowers.
Roan said the trail made him sad, as much as he loved the water. I felt that way, too. We came home and read a children's book about forest succession, so I could remind him that new trees will fill the gaps of the old ones. It was the same story with the great American chestnuts, after all. We saw some, in one of the forest gaps, still trying to grow. Like this picture of Willow, our memories grow fuzzy, but we keep what we can and go on. That is the way, isn't it?