The trek

The trek
Burt Baldwin - 03/11/2021

I am an old man now, but in the spring I always seek the warmth of the sun and the smell of emerging flowers. It is a time to put the lawn and garden in order, but aside from property maintenance, I am eager to grab my ball cap and head for the wilderness. It’s just the hankering to explore. The Four Corners affords the wanderings of an old man. There are endless ravines and canyons that need to witness new footsteps. I guess I’ll just head there to find what can never be found.

The human line is very ancient, going back tens of millions of years, but the trails I follow are a mere few thousand years old in their making. Artifacts have been found in these areas dating back to late ice ages. To be witness to these environs evokes a greater sense of awe and humility. The journey frees me from the dog-eat-dog world of contemporary man; it revitalizes the creative muses and refreshes the soul. I am reminded of the writings of Thoreau and his disdain for progress and consumption that devours the natural world. This becomes my small escape from the modernized proclivities of the cyber realm.  

We all know that the door to the past is a strange one, but on these treks the mind becomes wide open to reflection. As one travels, stories and events are recalled with utmost clarity. My diaries sometimes say otherwise, and I tend to romanticize events to fit my biases and ego. What was written cannot be altered. None of us can return through that threshold of the past, but we can still remember ... and that may be the saving grace.

During some of my sojourns, I have witnessed peculiar events that when recalled, created mental reservations.  Most of these events centered around animal life and ghostly strangers. These animals and strangers had provided me with meaningful auguries and insights.  They were guides to reconnection. We all have the ability to reconnect to nature but many of us have fallen down the rabbit hole of progress or become seduced by the sirens of the internet. David Abram wrote a book, entitled Becoming Animal, that is a treatise for reconnecting with the land, the past and people. I highly recommend it for those who wish to explore the possibility of reconnection to the Earth.

When I was a small boy of 7 years, I recall a bus trip I took to visit a relative. I was alone and scared. It was a dreary and rainy night, and my only security was a note pinned to my coat that my ward would recognize. The bus made only one stop on the several-mile journey. It came to a grove where an elderly black woman boarded with some paper bags and her dog. Behind her rushed up six sailors. They sat in three rows across from me. The dog started to whimper. The seamen were a noisy group, laughing and joking. When we reached our destination, I asked the driver where might the sailors be going. He looked at me bewildered and blurted out, “What sailors?”

We recall the past on our trek, we see farther backward into time, but we seem to stop at the present, or; at best, we project idealizations and versions of ourselves on what we have experienced and accomplished. They become our story. From this we consider our lives complete. What we don’t understand we relegate to the world of mysticism or magic. All I can say is that one of the sailors had a harmonica and when he played it the dog started to bark.