Heel to toe

THE sun is already high. Heel to toe we start to climb, invisibly tied front to back. A family of sorts! Struggling, combining effort to effort, strength matched to strength. Each boot leaves its mark of individual pull, little control in ragged gasps. Drawing in cold, crisp air; breathing stays captured in midair. Each step brings roof of blue closer. Trees and bushes dance on by in the half-light of the woods. The top: a view of mountain points. Blue whiteness; looks close enough to touch. But it's countless steps away. Flowers growing wildly reward our pursuing. Cushions of green hug rocks and boulders and lie green upon brownish bark.

Descending back to well-trod ground, it's hard not to stumble; to dive headlong down the path. Sharp turns break our urge to plunge. The wind makes trees sing as they creak and bend, sending their many voices to the stream and back again. A woodpecker blends steady, hollow drumming with tree voices.

We stop, listening, to this calling in the woods. It begs for a listener before our boots leave their mark and go back to the beginning. Returning to marvel, looking up to where we've been. A different song, a deeper, silent quiet, has brought us closer.

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