Friday, April 24, 2015

Of earth, stone, moss, wood and water.

How must it be
to be moss,
that slipcover of rocks?—

greening in the dark,
longing for north,
the silence
of birds gone south.

How does moss do it,
all day
in a dank place
and never a cough?—

a wet dust
where light fails,
where the chisel
cut the name.
-Bruce Guernsey

    I needed to escape.  To take a few, okay six and a half, hours away from it all.  I needed thoughts to rattle around in my head, needed to take deep breaths--breathing in the scent of burning prairies, moss, wet earth, minerals, pollen and manure.  These things soothe and repair me.  They are healers in their own right and I'm not quite sure what I'd do without them.

Limestone calving off like a glacier
    I never really liked riding crushed limestone trails.  There was something that seemed so mundane about miles upon miles of 1-3% gradient changes and riding under a constant canopy of trees and invasive species.  My butt and shoulders always hurt after doing long rides on these trails and my mind would go a bit stir crazy.  And then, somewhere in my mid 30's, I started to enjoy them.  No, I didn't want to ride them all the time--especially being a lover of hills--but there was something these trails could give me that regular road riding couldn't.

    It's hard to explain what happens to me on these trails--especially the H8TR (some know it as the Badger State Trail).  I start letting my mind relax, along with my breathing rate.  I find a rhythm and rarely change my pace or gears.  The whole experience is somewhat zen like to me.  I begin to notice small things, like the changing colors between moss and lichen.  I watch birds and their rituals (I was treated to a plethora of flickers and hawks today).  I watch the clouds.  And I usually realize how lucky I am to be alive.

    As my friends in the Twin Cities fight like mad to prevent the River Bottoms from being paved, and there is some discussion of paving more of the H8TR, I wonder what will happen to the moss, rocks,  trees and my state of mind if I can't get this little escape in once in awhile.


  1. Okay, I finally have to ask: What's the backstory to the H8TR name?