with the leaves

Earlier and colder than yesterday, we are moving into still dawn and burgeoning color, steam coming from the ground,

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and a waning moon that is already not as full as its fullness that was captured in yesterday’s photo.

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Going in, the first part of the trail is always predictably dark even if the sun has already risen.

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Anticipating the clearings ahead that will be infused with brightness, I let the ground lead me there. It is a ground boot deep now in leaves, with tops of roots and rocks barely showing through. The actual path is barely discernible.

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There is a certain comfort and familiarity with being with the leaves this way, and I realize that months of walking these paths have given me a blind trust of what is underfoot.   It is a sea of leaves in every direction I look in the dim light, where even familiar structures like the footbridges blend more that call out.

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I know I will stay at this level of the brook with the leaves this morning. Doubling back from the end of the trail before climbing would be necessary, I meet my new friend Celia and her dog Molly walking toward us. We turn around and walk for a short bit back to the end of the trail and I feel the pull to continue with them up the mountain as we typically do.  But my resolve to stay with the leaves is stronger. I feel the bittersweet edge of this choice as I really enjoy the time with Celia. There is no tension as we go our separate ways, and I am taken by surprise at the wave of emotion that rises in me and spills out in brief tears while walking in the opposite direction. I think, what if Celia wants to talk or needs some companionship and here I am selfishly doing exactly what I want to do. But wait! So is she, choosing to continue up the mountain just the way she needs to right now. This is exactly the way it is supposed to be this morning. Smile. Recognizing the old worn out tape in my head, this moment seems to be an apt metaphor for honoring so many unexpected choices made these past years, discerning choices that have led me into all this new terrain that I love. With relief, the tears take with them whatever residual resistance there is to trusting and accepting this truth.

The sun is coming up now. Nora and I greet and pass all our usual companions on the way back. We continue along the most challenging path on the other side of the brook back to the trail opening, one that is hard to follow even without all the leaf covering. Sure of foot and choice, I am flooded with gratitude.   The world of the trail has become illuminated by so much spirit and light.

 

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