Stepping off the familar road

Sometimes I wish I could be more like my dog Annie. On our walk yesterday, I decided to go off the road on a faint trail leading south through the trees and brush. I quickly lost sight of most landmarks. Annie pulled hard at the leash, unafraid, wanting only to keep moving forward. I lagged behind, worried about spraining an ankle on the uneven ground, about getting lost, about tearing my clothes, or encountering a wild animal. Deer and elk prints dotted the mud all around, but I had also heard reports of bears and cougars. What would I do if something suddenly emerged out of the bushes?

Scotch broom just starting to sprout yellow flowers and blackberry vines still dry and fruitless grabbed at my stretchy pants and dirty raincoat as we passed through a graveyard of fallen trees. Beyond them, old spruce stood in a line like sentinels. East. The ocean was west. Logically, I knew I couldn’t go more than a mile in any direction without coming to a road, but I still hesitated to go far.

We emerged on a plateau. I took two shots with my cell phone before a message came up that the memory was full. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to move these pictures to my computer. Why do I never bring my camera? “Come on, Annie,” I said, pulling her toward home. She ignored me.

The sky was gray, the clouds darker gray. It could rain any minute, but Annie didn’t care. She plunged her face into a bush, inhaling wild scents, not worrying about her eyes or ears. Every inch was an adventure for her. She did not worry about “what ifs.” She just breathed it all in until I tore her away to seek the safety of the gravel road.

I recently finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail through California and Oregon alone with a backpack so heavy she could barely lift it. She walked hundreds of miles at high altitude through intense heat and cold. She encountered bears, cows, snakes and other creatures, along with some dangerous humans. She went without food or water for long stretches and walked on blistered bloody feet. Reading this book made me long to go on an adventure of my own. And yet here I was, hesitant to leave the familiar road a mile from home. I wasn’t trespassing on private property or hiking where no one had ever been. The discarded Dutch Brothers coffee cup proved that. Maybe next time, I’ll go farther.

Let’s all try to take a step or two beyond our comfort zones this week. What do you say?

Copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2012

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