I’ve been out walking. In the woods. Crocked as I am, and with a doctor too cagey to give me an actual date for release back to the wild, it’s all I have. And it is glorious.
I’m fortunate to live fewer than 10 miles from the site of Thoreau’s cabin, set, as it is, in idyllic New England forest, oak, maple, and birch ringing the kettle ponds, the rising spring sun slanting through new green leaves. The dog is living his best life, and I can’t ride, but I’m not suffering either.
My favorite thing to do is walk out my front door, up the street, and into the first patch of woods I can find. From there, I link from one set of trails to the next, getting farther and farther from home, until I begin to worry about my ability to make it back. The weather hasn’t been too hot yet, and though I’m in a sling for my broken collarbone, I’m managing to get pretty sweaty. The dog consumes puddles and wades into muddy bogs. He’d go forever, if I could.
It’s not just that it’s beautiful. It’s the sense of walking back in history. If you read a little, you know that Thoreau and Emerson and the Alcotts lived and walked these trails only a short time ago. Some of the stone walls you see, randomly dividing stands of trees, are old farm walls that predate the country itself. I like this a lot. I like imagining what colonial farmers, or even the native Americans who lived there before, would make of their land now, with Route 2 splitting it down the middle, with designated parking areas for tourists.
Hiking through Thoreau’s woods this week I started thinking how lucky I was, though. We are, all of us, unable to travel, but like Thoreau, “I have traveled a great deal in Concord,” which is one of saying you don’t actually have to go that far to find some pretty remarkable adventures. They’re there. Walk out your door.
I had planned to visit family in Wales this summer, to ride the narrow farm lanes and the grassy tracks that bisect the country. I had dreamed of mountain biking in Snowdonia again. But we’re not going. No one is. It’s ok. We’ll bide our time, like Thoreau in his cabin, only a mile’s walk into the center of Concord, but alone for all intents and purposes.
This week’s Group Ride asks, IF you could travel now, someplace nice to ride, where would you go? Don’t think too hard on the budget. Just say where, what bike, with whom, and why.