One Clawed Crayfish, Red Wagons, and Black Sweatshirts

Written: May 10, 2020

Another day, another walk in White’s Woods (5.6 miles). Hopefully, I will be able to have a bit more variety in hiking in the next few weeks. Until then, I am enjoying the familiarity with the well worn trails. I know where the wood peckers live and play in these woods. I know areas where black rat snakes are, garter snakes, and even a one clawed crayfish. I remember the area where I have seen a bear each year and have watched it grow. There are high grass areas that are filled with butterflies on sunny days. I always get disappointed when these areas are mowed down, as I know there will be fewer butterflies that day. I know where to look for deer at 7am, 8am, and 5pm. When I walk down the steps covered in dry leaves, I remember them as wet, with bright shelled box turtles. I know where the fog sits and what areas get muddy with a light rain. I know that if you go on the trails before 7am, you should expect to hit a few spider webs on the route, clearing them for other travelers.

I see my kids running up the stairs with sticks in their hands pretending to be on an adventure on Mars. I see them racing around the parking lot at College Lodge in a red wagon, as we were trying to keep them still for a photo shoot. I see endless sled riding, hot chocolate, and other events. I remember my first – kind of – dates with Jess, when we’d wander these trails and hope not to run into anyone we knew. I’ll never forget the first time she asked me to walk the trails, while sitting at the Common Place Coffee House. That forever changed our path.

I don’t get bored on this hike no matter how many times I walk it. Instead, it feels like my black sweatshirt with a broken zipper and a hole in the sleeve. The more I walk it, the less I want to ever give it up. There is much more diversity in fungi and observable animal life at Oil Creek State Park and other State Parks. But, it will never feel like my black sweatshirt.

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