Wednesday morning I woke early to a cold and rainy day. The skies were grey and heavy, and the air had a bite. It changed quickly. By 11am, the air was warm and the rain became more intermittent. The skies remained heavy.
By noon I just needed to go. I spent all the morning holed in an office talking to undergraduate students about their scheduling needs. I was quickly reduced to boredom and frustration. I drove out to Philips Creek State Preservation, a small park between the villages of Belmont and Alfred, New York. Part of Philips Creek is groomed for cross-country skiing. I went to hike.
I was there alone, at least at the beginning. I changed into a old pair of running shoes, and began walking down one of the trails.
It was amazing, incredibly beautiful. Despite the grey skies, there was a warmth to light because of the yellowing leaves. I could hear the sound of running water, run-off from the rain reaching for the creek. I saw deer cutting through the trees, startled by the sound of my walking, and I heard coyotes or wild dogs in the distance.
The trail changed constantly. Sometimes it’d be a muddy mess, other parts of the trail a short grass, just enough to wet the toes of my sneakers. I relished it all. I saw the whole world for a moment, and it was all living and changing before me. Too often we forget how alive it all is around us. We forget how little we are in life, and how much less we control it. Times like this – alone, alive, and connected to the world – I feel more resolved; my smallness in the world feels comforting.
When I returned back to school, I had mud up to my knees.