As we began our walk in the woods that day it was so quiet. No sounds except the birds and a distant woodpecker tapping away. The air was crisp and cool, the breeze gentle, and the warm sun felt really good on our backs. The ground beneath our feet was damp from an early morning rain, so that even our steps on the leaves and branches on the path made no crunching noise. The stillness was surrounding us in a beautiful way.
My husband and I often go to the woods to find ourselves again, to escape the normal daily grind, to hear whatever Nature wants to tell us. Normally we do not see other adults of our age out on the trail, but this day we did. A pleasant couple greeted us as we began our walk, then a man walking alone met up with us, and we exchanged hellos.
"It's a beautiful day in the woods today," he said. I noticed his denim shirt, his hat and walking stick, and very pleasant smile. We all then went our separate ways.
A few steps later I heard the rhythmic sound of the tap tap tap of the man's walking stick as he crossed the little footbridge on the trail. I paused, turned to see him moving across the wooden planks, and decided to snap a photo. The sun was streaming through the trees, lighting the path on the bridge, making a pattern on his denim shirt. Just one shot, and we continued on our way.
What was it about the sight of this stranger walking away? Perhaps it was the cadence of his stride, accented by the tap of that walking stick. Or the set of his shoulders, the pace of his walk, the very demeanor about him that spoke of many walks in the woods, taking time to reflect and just soak in all the beautiful surroundings.
For the rest of our time in the woods that day I thought of this encounter, of how just the image of this man and his walking stick reminded me of an English class long ago when I fell in love the the words and wisdom of Thoreau. The tap of the walking stick being a beat of a different drum. The contemplative attitude of those of us on that trail that day taking me back to the reason why ".... I came to the woods.."
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Henry David Thoreau