A Walk in the Woods

Written and photos by: David Michael Kirby

leafwithrain

AS I WALK WITH BEAUTY
(Traditional Navajo Prayer)

As I walk, as I walk
The universe is walking with me
In beauty it walks before me
In beauty it walks behind me
In beauty it walks below me
In beauty it walks above me
Beauty is on every side
As I walk, I walk with Beauty.

A walk in the woods replenishes my spirit like no other activity. I’ve hiked since before I can remember, thanks to my parents. Mom and Dad instilled in all four of us kids a deep appreciation of nature early in our upbringing. Woodland paths, mountain trails, hidden waterfalls and wildflower meadows always make my heart sing. Living in the city means I don’t hike as much as I would like, but here in Vermont, opportunities for this kind of meditation are virtually endless.

At the suggestion of Tommy, a short order cook at Betsey’s Dot’s of Dover (awesome diner up the road and a favorite haunt of mine) I ventured to the southern end of the Harriman Reservoir, also known as Lake Whitingham. I wanted to see the huge spillway by the dam (nicknamed the “Glory Hole” because it looks like a massive concrete morning glory punching a hole in the surface of the water). It was worth the trek. (Historic sidebar: Whitingham is the birthplace of Brigham Young.)

harrimandam trail

The day was grey with an intermittent mizzle (more than a mist but less than a drizzle). I didn’t mind. As a photographer, I get some of my favorite shots on days such as this. I had the entire reservoir to myself. If not for a small patrol boat along the dam’s perimeter, I would have felt like the last man on earth.

The walk was graced with wildflowers of every shape and color. As I walked, I looked and the more I looked, the more I saw. By the time I turned around to return to my car, I noticed small details I missed the first time passing by: a raindrop-spattered leaf on the path, an eagle feather stuck in a tree, a brilliant blue flower I completely missed the first time I entered the path.

I was below the dam, my car in sight, when my eye was drawn to a tiny, brilliantly-colored flower growing from a crack in the asphalt. I nearly continued walking, but something about its placement made me turn around and photograph it. The tenacious, precarious beauty of this seemingly fragile wildflower spoke to me. About persistence in difficult circumstances. About continually seeking the sunshine. And that natural beauty has its own truth.

“As I walk, I walk with Beauty.”

It was a good day. A “live inspired” day. A Vermontime day.

wildflower purplerain