What do you experience when you take a hike? Listen to the trees blowing. Do you hear the wind in your ear? Maybe if you whistle, you’ll hear a mockingbird mimic your tune from a distance.
Take a step. Did the leaves crackle under your worn out sneakers? Perhaps you stepped on a deserted pinecone or a dead animal carcass; fracturing its minuscule bones. Look at the pond. Is it still? A stray leaf falls leisurely towards the water. As it settles nimbly on top of the serene pond, a minnow mistakes it for food, swimming away once it realizes it’s flub.
Do you smell that? The smell of fallen leaves slowly decaying in the firm earth. Perchance you forgot your jacket in the car? A brisk breeze heightens your goosebumps, sending a frigid shiver down your spine.
Possibly you stumble on a sharp rock and lose your balance, using a tree to steady yourself. Under your palm you feel velutinous moss, pulling away in disgust before realizing how cushiony it felt. Curious now, you gently pet the moss, almost as if it were a cat. Gazing at the pond, you find yourself drawn to it.
Schlepping carefully over the rocks, you make it to the pond. The sun lazily creeping past the horizon bounces off the water straight to your eyes, making you squint. Gazing at the calm water causes your mouth to fill with saliva. You close your eyes and remember you brought a canteen, but also forgot to grab it. Thinking back, you imagine how a cold sip of water would taste. As you swallow your accumulated saliva, your throat dries. The pond teases you as it laps below your feet. Squatting down you decide, What harm can come to me? It’s only a lil’ sip. When you dip your hands in, a rush of arctic chill shoots up your arms. Cupping your hands full of freezing water, you quickly bring it to your split lips. The crisp liquid slides down your throat, numbing it on the way down. You exhale and smile. That wasn’t so bad, you think as you carefully stand up.
Looking back at the trail, you realize it’s time to go. “Thank you, God,” you whisper, breathing your words into the wind to settle amongst the trees.