Tuesday, September 30, 2008


When i am out hiking, sometimes the correct way forward is not obvious. If i stare fixedly at the ground, attempting to will the trail into appearing before me, i become even more unsure as i move along.

I have to remind myself to stop, raise my head and let my eyes relax into longer range focus, looking for the pattern in the terrain. Then the path appears before me, because i stopped looking so hard.

It's akin to when i spent a summer as a camp counselor. I came to rely less and less on flashlights to make my way in the dark. I would let my body relax into a state where i was able to stop using only my eyes, and trust the input from my feet and ears.

On really dark nights, i would walk looking straight up through the trees to seek out the slightly less inky darkness indicating the location of the path. This and the feel of the ground under my feet would guide me along. At camp this was called "blundering", a word which belies the grace i achieved when i could successfully let go of the desire for visual input.

"So does the child also know only what its five senses can tell it. But other senses there are, and these develop as the being grows, and when they are fully developed we trust them as once we trusted only our senses." - Pearl S. Buck A Pavilion of Women.

Two random pictures from one of last week's hikes.


Lynn said...

As you pointed out...sometimes our eyes deceive us. Trusting instincts takes practice. You seem to find the most unusual "mushrooms" to take pictures of!

Mrs. Chili said...

I'm sorry.... is that SNOW?! You know how I feel about snow, right? Please, shelter me from those kinds of images for at least another month or so - it's bad enough that we're having to switch out summer clothes for sweaters and cords around here; don't make it any worse by showing me SNOW!

Maggie said...

and herein lies my issue with life in general. wanting to know always what is ahead, wanting to make the path before allowing it to reveal itself.

you know, you as a camp counselor kind of stunned me. after all, you don't really like kids. Ha ha ha. J/k.

Daisy said...

a) Isn't it amazing how we modern creatures don't trust ourselves in the dark? (And how hard it is now to even find a place that's truly dark?) I was out "in the country" and ambled along a dark country road lit by the moon -- horror movies and small newspaper features about dead women flashed through my head and I couldn't get rid of the idea that an ax murderer might jump out at me at any moment.

My hiking path story -- Cornwall's coastal path. Me meandering along. Admiring views. Enjoying the hot sun. The terrain gets rougher. I pass a sheep. There are some rocks. The trail splits. Um. I pick one. It 'trails out" as it were and I am left using a bag to whack my way through stinging nettles and brambles wondering why it was that strange man told me to watch out for snakes that morning and whether anyone would ever find my body.... (Course, the plus side is that I eventually fought my way to a wall, on the other side was a road, and walking along the road side I came across a cool circle of standing stones....)

Daisy said...

I'm sorry.

Was that a comment, or a post?


Sober Briquette said...

I took a bunch of cool mushroom shots today!

patches said...

Instinct is so much easier to follow when you aren't engaged in a battle of instincts with your partner.

Joan said...

I only wish I could learn to trust those instincts of mine rather than my eyes. Somehow, I just can't seem to "let go." Perhaps, if I let my senses take over, it might finally make hiking a fun activity rather than one filled with tumbles and scrapes. SIgh...

meno said...

lynn, that mushroom was about 6 inches across too.

mrs. chili, yep, but no worries, i WAS up in the mountains. We were hiking in the first snow of the season on Mt. Baker. Glorious.

maggie, it's true, i don't really like kids, particularly in groups.

daisy, Don't apologize! what a great story. You have mad typing skilz and must use them.

de, hopefully we'll see them soon.

patches, wow. that's pithy. More explanation please.

joan, i have two new bruises and a scrape on my hand, but it was breathtakingly beautiful. It was worth it.

crazymumma said...

What a great metaphor for the big picture. I do that when I drive, I try and see far into the distance, traffic allowing, so as to be more.......steady. It works.

Irrelephant said...

As metaphors go it ranks up there with tossing bricks from speeding vehicles but it's beautifully written and sincere, so you're forgiven. *wink*

I love finding my way around the house unerringly in the pitch dark. It makes me feel like I'm slightly more than I am, if you know what I mean.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Mushroom Picture! Are you a mushroom hunter too? Ohhh I've collected so many Chanterelle, Boletus Edulis, even plenty of Gypsy this week! I gotta write a post on this :)

QT said...

I am loving this post, obvious or no. And I see you finally found some berries...

TTQ said...

SNOW!!!!!!! As for the hiking stuff, it's kinda like "where's Wadlo" or those 3d pics you half to relax and stare at it..

This year come hell or high water (okay snow preferrably) I am going to go someplace cold this winter. Most likely by myself because..nobody in my family in this state wants to see snow..they just mumble about us living in Florida in the first place..to get out of the cold.

Diane Mandy said...

This is a very lovely post meno, but i wouldn't call it blundering.

And those pictures are GREAT!

tt said...

I always love your pictures.
The red on that mushroom is glorious.
And I'd say that's a good metaphor for life...it's all about trust isn't it. Hard to do sometimes but most of the time the outcome is great. ;)

Dianne said...

this is such a gentle and thoughtful post.

and the quote is a fabulous way to cap off your own lovely words

great photos too!

furiousBall said...

"sometimes the correct way forward is not obvious"

great line. loved the pics too

Scott from Oregon said...

You should plan on climbing Shasta in the Spring-- before you get old.

fiwa said...

Meno, you always make me stop and think. The glib response I was going to make was negative (about myself), so I will refrain.

That mushroom looks like a work of art.

Imez said...

Geez I think your philosophical revelations of peace and calm are in direct conflict with my current philosophical revelations of hunger and direction.

But the kickass mushroom picture might sway me.

meno said...

crazymumma, that's the best way to drive, rather than staring at the bumper of ther car in front of you.

irrelephant, tossing bricks huh? Watch out bub or i'll take a bat to your mailbox!

mother hen, i would be a mushroom hunter if i knew what i was doing. I love Chanterelles!

qt, there were huckleberries and blueberries. We picked quite a few and they were YUMMY!

ttq, snow is nice to visit, as long as it's not where i live.

diane, thank you!

tt, trusting yourself and not forcing an outcome.

dianne, thank you, i'm glad you liked it.

furious, thanks dude! I love to post my hiking pictures, i use any excuse, valid or not.

scott, i was just googling that climb. It looks a little scary. i don't do crampons and ice axes, too chicken.

fiwa, good for you for refraining. That's hard to do, as i know.

imez, not i am hungry, so philosophy goes out the door. That mushroom looked like fairies should be dancing around it.

Daisy said...

THe word "crampons" always makes me giggle.

Tampax meets cranberries...

Mona Buonanotte said...

Beautiful pics, but snow? Already? I'm still wearing sandals!

I sometimes think I maneuver better in the dark. Like a bat. Which explains a lot.

Irrelephant said...

You know that's an awfully long drive just for a quick game of Mailbox Baseball. How about you just say you did and we'll leave it at that?

Dang hooligan middle-aged kids, tearing up my mailbox! *shaking my fist in the vague direction of Seattle*

luckyzmom said...

I was going to leave a comment, something about not eating it, but couldn't stop examining the fascinating mushroom picture.

Several nights ago we lost power and I went outside to see how many homes were without electricity. We both looked up simultaineously and were thunderstruck by the beautiful night sky. We live out in the middle of nowhere and usually see lots of stars on clear nights. Without the lights though, it was an even more phenomenal sight.

Franki said...

I hope that mushroom gave you pretty, pretty trails.

Sienna said...

I love this.
There is something about the mountains, hills, countryside, the forests and nature that soothes me like no other.

Climbing at one of the nearby mountains I love.. the trust I must have in myself for the safest path to the summit. I still get a little itsy, you should hear my heart pump.

Peaceful, soothing and yet very intense.

Way ta go Meno.


liv said...

you're beautiful. just beautiful.

meno said...

daisy, crampons is amusing. I was thinking of crayons and tampons. A red crayon, of course.

mona, i was on a mountain, so the snow was okay, as it's way up there.

irrelephant, i suppose you're right. We'll just consider your mailbox to have been virtually bashed.

luckyzmom, amazong what you can see without all that light pollution.

franki, wow, like, have you ever really LOOKED at your hand, man?

pam, what's cool about photography, is that i can remember the way i felt just by looking at the pictures.

liv, thank you!

Susanne said...

Beautiful post, and pictures. It reminds me not to look to hard but go into the flow. Thanks.

capacious said...

Inky. One of the best words ever.