for when the way grows weary

Written by Sandra Heska King

PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.

August 7, 2012

It’s only a one-mile loop, this Dry Marsh Trail. I can handle that, even in this heat. It’s an easy hike, though, and it’s good to be away and outside, just the two of us.

I lag behind, stopping to take pictures of this and that. He waits for me to catch up, reads out loud from the brochure.

This marsh was once a small lake that supported many aquatic plants and animals. Through the years, rain-washed soil gradually filled it in, and now it holds water only in wet years.

There’s little water today.

As the marsh continues to fill in, plants growing around the drier edges will spread inward. If you were to stand on this spot 100 years from now you might be in the middle of an oak woods.

I pause to ponder how changes and erosion and drought can still stimulate growth.

He reads about the various trees. We count the seven leaflets on a white ash leaf. We try to figure out which leaves belong to the quaking aspen, leaves that seem to tremble or quake in the breeze. We learn it takes two years for a black oak acorn to ripen.

I turn my lens heavenward to try to catch the sparkles of sun on residual raindrops.

My imagination runs wild as I think about the Irish sheep farmers who first settled this land.

There’s another trail in this park. We stop in front of the sign. It’s 22 miles to Green Lake and 36 to Silver Lake. “Ready?” he asks.

I tuck damp hair under my Detroit Tigers cap and look squinty-eyed at him. “Will you know when to stop?”

“Just let me know when you get tired,” he answers, “and we’ll turn around.”

The problem is I don’t always know I’m weary until it’s too late.

We’re scrambling over some rocks now. This trail’s more strenuous than the first, but not nearly as tough as last year’s climb up Sugarloaf Mountain. To press on then was well worth the view and perspective.

The lake spreads out below and to our right. The water shimmers in the light.

We’re about thirty minutes down the path before I realize we’ve left our water bottles in the car. I run my tongue along upper and lower lips, taste the salty. Even my light and loose sleeveless shirt clings to my back.

The lake’s behind us now, and the path stretches before us. We see only one other person—a man who carries a tall walking stick and nods as he passes. His camouflaged backpack bounces, and for a moment I envision him waiting beyond the bend to ambush us on our return.

I shut the camera off and pop the lens cover on. There’s nothing new under this green canopy even for this deep see diver. I just follow my leader step by monotonous step on a sun-dappled path. I lean against a tree to dump stones and sand from my hiking sandals. I keep my eyes down to avoid smushing the black cherries or crunching the green acorns that litter the way. I remember that repetitive movement is supposed to stimulate one’s creative flow.

Finally he says he thinks we should turn around but come back and hike here again. I say okay as I’m not seeing anything new (to take a picture of) and maybe it would be fun to try a new trail next time. I’m trying not to whine. “Don’t you get tired of seeing the same thing?” I ask.

“No,” he answers. I just like to look at the woods. It’s enough.”

To look at the woods…

I flip the lens cap off and turn on the camera. I take one last picture.

To look at the woods…

To look at the wood.

It’s enough.

If you’re interested, I’ve posted more photos on my blog here.

 

19 Comments

  1. David Rupert

    Sandra, I love the way you see things. “Into the Woods” where we can listen and think.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I would have loved to just stop a sit awhile, David. To just stop still and see. But he likes to keep moving. And I think we sometimes do that too often–just keep moving (plodding) through “monotonous” days instead of paying attention.

      Our handyman is coming today to set up my new recumbent exercise bike. I think I’ve gotten softer since last September, I think, and I’d like to make it up the bluff again. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Ed_Cyzewski

    Sometimes I keep looking for extraordinary things, and I forget to appreciate the beauty in the ordinary and simple.

    In one of our previous homes, we got the best morning light in our living room. It was a perfect place to write, and I’ve missed it over the years. At our new home we have a front porch where I can once again enjoy a little morning light, and I make an effort now to get out on the porch when I can!

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I love my porch. I try to get out there a bit every day. It faces west, though, so often in the morning I’ll go out on the back patio to watch the sun come up. Monotonous movement of a sphere constantly in motion–but still new every day. God sometimes speaks best in the whispers of the simple and the ordinary.

      Reply
  3. Patricia W Hunter

    Yes. Those thoughts occur to me often…especially in the month of August…when everything down here is green. Green, green, and green. One of my posta in drafts is “Green is the color of August, part 4″….but God always shows me something in the sameness….even if it’s a reminder that He is faithful…and He never changes…and that is surely enough. Yes?

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      More than enough, yes. And always something in the sameness, yes. I am amazed at how much green there still is in spite of the drought conditions we suffered. We’ve been blessed with more rain lately, though, and our corn seems to have recovered. He always comes through in His timing. And I’m grateful for that while mindful of those who are still waiting.

      Reply
  4. Karen Lange

    Thank you for sharing this. I need to stop and appreciate every bit of the scenery today!

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      It’s so good to see you, Karen! Thanks for coming by. I need to remind myself to stop and appreciate every. single. day.

      Reply
  5. Jennifer Richardson

    I love Sandra’s creative seeing, how clearly she expresses
    her beautiful heart, and trekking alongside of her today.
    Thanks for the nourishing share,
    Jennifer

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Thanks so much, Jennifer. I’ll trek alongside you any day.

      Reply
  6. Wendy

    Sandra so blessed by your words, pictures, and the invitation you extend to join you on your journey. Blessings friend!

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      The more the merrier, right? So glad to see you here, Wendy.

      Reply
  7. Diana Trautwein

    Lovely, Sandy. As always. Though I’d have turned around much earlier on that hike, especially if I were wearing sandals. :>)

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I hate wearing socks and tennis shoes in the summer. My feet get too hot. I called them hiking sandals, but technically I think they’re called sports sandals. Good for walking trails and straight into water and out again. They’re Keens, style similar to their Venice line. A bit pricey, but they also have the wideness that gives my (shhh) bunions room to spread. I’ve had the same pair for years, and I wear them all. the. time.

      Reply
  8. Martha Orlando

    I never tire of looking at the woods and give thanks every day for the beautiful trees that surround our home. Loved this post, Sandy, and will jump over to your home page to see the rest of your photos.
    Blessings!

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Always good to see you, Martha–here and there. I would have liked to just sat still for a bit, but my husband doesn’t have the patience to do that for very long. Even at the beach, he wants to be walking. 😉

      Reply
  9. Michele-Lyn

    Oh yes, your thoughts and words continued here a just beautiful. I am so glad I came by. It’s like honey for the soul. Blessings to you 🙂

    Reply

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for when the way grows weary

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 3 min
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