reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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trail magic. [two artists tuesday]

“trail magic” is a term for unexpected generosity on the trail. it originated on the appalachian trail and includes snacks and drinks, sometimes even pancakes or burgers. hikers stumble upon this magic – it is the stuff of celebration.

trail magic is not limited, however, to through-hikes and the wilderness. though we’d love to be out on one of those trails (the appalachian, pacific crest or maybe a little more doable for us – the john muir) we are a bit more localized at the moment. in nearby areas, we hike a few trails over and over, watching the seasons change and the wildlife come and go. we recognize when a tree has fallen or when grasses have been tamped down by sleeping deer. the subtleties surround us. we notice them. magic.

this holiday season was unlike any other for us. there was no music planning, no practicing, no piles of anthems strewn on the piano. there were no rehearsals, no services, no choir parties. there was no bonfire after the late christmas eve service, no luminaria party. there were no festive gatherings, no big crowded dinners, no small dinners with guests, no happy hours in holiday finery. there was no travel over the river and through the woods, no trips to visit or sightsee or play tourist. there was no newly-purchased christmas tree – real or artificial. there were no packages under the white lighted branches in our living room or the small forest of trees i have collected through the years.

but there was magic.

trail magic – on our journey through these holidays – came in the form of a very few people who reached out. their kindnesses were the gentle touch of a magic wand and today, as we write our thank-yous, i hope to convey that to them.

trail magic – on our journey through these holidays – came in the form of a blowing snowfall on christmas eve, inches of crunchy snow in the woods, a blustery day spent inside a warm house watching it sleet outside.

trail magic – on our journey through these holidays – most especially came in the form of these tiny bits of precious time: seeing the face of my son in-person on a freezing cold christmas eve, my boy and his charming boyfriend, both warm and relaxed and looking happy despite the circumstances of these times. and seeing the face of my daughter on facetime, a delayed opening of gifts, wrap and glitter flying, and then, just minutes after our new year turned, sharing her mountain-time new year’s eve with a sweet young man, both warm and relaxed and looking happy despite the circumstances of these times. magic.

for there is nothing more magical for me than to see my beloved children looking happy. there is nothing more magical for me than to share a little bit of time with them. trail magic – on our journey – indeed.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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be nice, say hi! (duh.) [two artists tuesday]

“duh” went through my mind when we hiked past this sign on a high mountain trail in aspen. every time we hike – absolutely anywhere – we are nice and we say hi. that seems pretty basic. “what’s with the sign reminder?” i wondered.

most trails in high elevation are shared. hikers trek, mountain bikers bike and equestrians ride – all on the same trails. kindness, mostly, prevails. friendliness, mostly, is at the ready. in this covid-19 time, with some exception, masks are pulled up as people pass each other face-to-face; safety is, mostly, first.

but there is always that element. any where. those who do not share well. those who do not trail together. those who are not nice. those who do not say hi. those who don’t even wave. those who need reminding. those who need signs.

today is – finally, at long last, after an interminable political season – election day.

given the run-up to this day of threats of national security, of people in trucks chasing down buses from the other side, of the president threatening to sic the supreme court upon the election, of mistruths of voter fraud, of concerns about gun-toting and armed observers at the polls, of covid-19 superspreader rallies held by the leader of the free world in a country raging with pandemic, of any number of examples of malfeasance by leadership et al, it would seem that signs might actually be necessary. basic signs. signs to remind people how to be. signs posted in most kindergarten classrooms across the land, from sea to shining sea.

signs that say, “be nice, say hi!”

signs, well, freaking everywhere.

because people are exercising their right to vote. people are having a say in this country that we all share, so that people can trek and bike and ride, metaphorically speaking, all somehow together on the same highways, the same backroads, the same trails, in the same states, in the same communities, the same cities, the same schools and businesses and religious institutions, the same neighborhoods, the same workplaces, the same clubs, the same friend-groups, the same families, across this vast country. people are voting so that their voices are considered, so that they are included, so that they can share in this democracy.

on the never-ending, incessant, ceaseless, uninterrupted, tedious, wearisome campaign trail, maybe the signs would help.

“be nice, say hi!”

pretty basic.

duh.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY – you will love his last paragraph!!


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she led us up this mountain. [two artists tuesday]

she led us up this mountain. my beautiful daughter, surefooted and strong, an exceptional guide, stopped in high altitude to allow me to catch my breath, to sip water. i wondered where the lake was…each step i took. but, following her, i stopped wondering if i would make it there. the confidence she exuded was both palpable and contagious. and so it was both thrilling and challenging to be high on independence pass, starting at the trailhead just a bit down the road from the summit.

she led us up this mountain and everything else fell away. far below us was the gravel lot, the highway. far below us was the truck that would soon take us away from these mountains, this heart-place. far below us were thoughts of leaving, thoughts of anything back home, thoughts of the pandemic and the election and real life and the worries embedded in all of that.

she led us up this mountain and we gained more than elevation as we trekked, our footfalls on the trail lost in the sound of the wind. we gazed around us, first below the treeline, then above, with fir and pine our hosts, the quaking golden aspen far below, unseen. the creek punctuated our thoughts and – admittedly, my puffing breath – tufts from mountain goats decorated thick branchy and leafless bushes.

she led us up this mountain and the less air i had left, the more it filled me. i wanted to hold onto every last second. i wanted to stand high on this mountain, next to this stunning pristine lake with my beloved daughter, and just weep. my heart needed this hike. my soul needed this hike. my body needed this hike. every other hike we had taken over our joyous days in these colorado mountains had led us to this hike. i was exhausted and cold and invigorated, hot-flashing and weak-kneed. and so, so grateful.

because mostly? because she led us up this mountain.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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“easy way down” and the way back up. [merely-a-thought monday]

in the middle of going down, down, down, i wondered about going up. it was a steep descent down the mountain service road and seemed interminable, winding around and around, but big red was up top and the return back up was inevitable. not only did it seem possibly insurmountable, it was laughable because it became clear to us that siri had directed us improperly to the start of the trail we wanted to hike. so there we were, trekking down a gravel service road with amazing views and a really big uphill back to look for our desired trail. “you have arrived,” siri announced. we stared into the forest looking for a trailhead, a trail, leaves crunched down that resembled a path…and saw nothing. it may have been an easy way down but it would be torturous going back up.

we have descended into the hell of a divided country. nearly 224,000 people have died – in this nation alone – of a pandemic that has swept the world and yet the president of this country continues to drag us down further, encouraging rallies sans masks or social distancing, insisting that this raging pandemic is “rounding the turn”. rounding the turn to where, we ask. it can only be a deeper cave of hades. his rhetoric, his falsehoods, his dismissive behavior of anything that might actually be of value to save-lives-right-now, have dragged us down to a devastating abyss.

it was easy going down. going back up, clawing our way to the surface of sanity and truth and virtue, will be harrowing. the crevasses are deep, the sides of the chasm walls strewn with piercing fallacies that must be sorted out. the rescuers are magnanimous, saving all the populace despite their flailing arms and dangerous tales. how much lower can we go?

and the truly sad part is that the pandemic is just one arm of the waterboarding, the suffocating performed by this administration. with bigotry and systemic and systematic racism, with decimated healthcare and a constant bow to the wealthy, with so much evidence of hatred and lies, inequality and political chaos, the current leadership has undermined the foundation of a country built on a celebration of the melting pot. the easy way down.

it is time to rise up and start walking. it is time to stare audacity in its face and vote it out. it is time to gather all strength and, with panting breath, make our way back up. to a horizon of light and love, to healing for this country and its citizens, every last one of them.

the way back up is not easy. but it’s achievable.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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quiet. new chalk. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

life is grace sleep

quiet.  we walk in quiet most of the time.  even our longer hikes are quiet.  it is a time of rest for us, rest from the noise of the rest of life, the noise of worry and angst, the noise of dispute, the noise of too much bad news, the noise of chaos.  we listen to the birds and our footfalls on the trail.  we listen to the wind and the sound of creatures rustling in the underbrush.  the quiet calms us; the quiet lifts the cellophane from the magic slate cardboard, it shakes the etch-a-sketch and takes it all back to zero, back to start, back to a rainwashed driveway waiting to be chalked all over again.

having run out of everest, k2 and annapurna footage we are watching appalachian trail and pacific crest trail and john muir trail videos these days.  on our own treks locally we decide which one of these to take, listing the specific merits of each.  make no mistake, these are serious treks.  the AT is 2190 miles from georgia to maine.  the PCT is 2653 miles from the border of mexico to the border of canada.  the JMT, joining with the PCT some of the way,  is 211 miles through the sierras, high elevation pass after pass.  clearly, the training needed would be intense.  but, as we envision this extended trekking, we are drawn to the quiet.  the noise of this world has become raucous and the woods and the mountains seem to beckon with absolution, with grace, with rejuvenation.

there used to be a button on the cassette player that you could push that would quicken the pace of the tape to the end: fast forward.  it would seem these trails, this quiet, like sleep, would fast forward through the dark and bring you to the light once again.  these trails – this quiet – remind you that next comes.

and so, the noise of the day will cease.  and you can listen to the sound of your footfall on a new day, ready to be chalked.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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