As much as I grouse about sore feet and aching legs, I love heading for the woods and losing myself in the vast greenness. I am not an outdoorsy person by any stretch – my perfect vacation involved feather beds, not camping in a tent. If I were ever truly to lose myself in the woods – as in, get lost – I would probably panic and freak out.
Still, there’s a serenity in silence that grounds me. Listening to the birds and watching the play of sunlight in the trees is soothing. On those days that I head out hiking, I spend hours in the woods and return home realizing that I haven’t spoken for the entire day. I think I need those quiet stretches. We live in a noisy world filled with attention hogging gadgets – sometimes getting away from all that is a good thing.
I don’t live near the sea, but this poem comes to mind a lot when I go hiking. I rather wish I had a chance to meet the author, but he (Joseph Auslander) died before I was born.
I Will Leave This House
I will leave this house, being tired of this house
and too much talk;
I will walk down to the sea where the wind blows
the waves to chalk,
and the sand scratches like a silver mouse …
I will leave everything here and walk.
I do not know why grass like golden leather
whipped into strings
should quiet the heart, or why this autumn weather,
this salt that stings
my eyes and eyelids should heal me altogether –
I do not know the reason for such things.
I only know that here are walls that harden
the eyes and brain;
I only know that words hiss and hurt and pardon –
only to hurt again;
and that the sea is like Death’s emerald garden
dripping with silver wind and silver rain.
Joseph Auslander, Poet Laureate