Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Secret Worlds

Colin Fletcher writes of secret worlds, the places just a tiny bit off the tracks trod by most men. These are the places that restore the soul and if you are lucky or wise, you find that these place are never far away. While there is great adventure to be found in thousand mile summers and breath-taking beauty in the far distant mountains, the small places are within hiking or biking distance.

It is only a few hours on a Christmas afternoon. Christine and the boys and I share many adventures but we also know that loving someone doesn't mean that every moment is a family moment. Some paths are trod alone, some secrets must be found in silence so they can become stories for a later telling. I grab my bike and roll into a dry winter day. My plan is vague and my tires rugged.

The gate is just off the known road. This is an unnamed bit of county land. I feel, rather than know, that this is some old farm, a bit of creekside deeded to the county. There are no buildings here, but bits of old gates and fence posts hint of a time when there were more men than a lone cyclist on a Christmas day. The water and the trees have their time and tiny tracks tell me that something passed here whose life is more fleeting than mine.

I wander, I wonder, I ponder and I poke around. I grow cold if I'm too still and wheels are ultimately made for rolling. Eventually, of course, strange paths rejoin known roads.

I could give a report with more detail, a GPS track to guide others to this gate and that rock. But exact coordinates give scant guidance to the secret worlds. These lands are better mapped by poets than cartographers.

I don't know what lies out your back door, but I know that I find something new each time I roll out mine with rugged tires and vague intentions.

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