Saturday, December 8, 2018

More instructions from nature

I was walking along the Mississippi River, which I learned to spell as a youth in Southern California and has really come in handy on this blog!

A waterfall was in the way of my walk, and a creek in a ravine. So even though there was snow packed icily on the skinny half-trails perched over the gorge's abyss, I left the civilized city trails and went down to pick my way past the waterfall.

It was a shortcut.

The Lord of the Rings has a line I frequently consider:

Shortcuts make long delays.

Pippin said that.

I like to consider it before I ignore it, while I'm ignoring it, and after I've ignored it. I have found it's not entirely accurate. It's more like shortcuts make for bad bets. Half the time they go wrong, which is particularly painful because one wouldn't be going for it if one wasn't especially eager to save a little time or distance or usually both, and then there one is going farther and longer than one ever dreamed. Maybe forty percent of the time shortcuts don't go wrong exactly, but they come out pretty much even with what would have happened without the shortcut. But that last ten percent, oh that beautiful ten percent, that's what keeps the shortcut gambling addict like me going. When a shortcut goes right it's like outsmarting the Universe, but in a joyful way that makes the Universe laugh and shake its head and say "Good one." 

Plus, once found a shortcut is yours forever.

So that's why I was clinging to the side of the cliff. It wasn't bad as long as I thought carefully about it and didn't think about it at the same time. In the Autumn it's a totally acceptable trail. Now it was a tad slippery. But I made it alive to the ravine bed. Crossing over the top of the waterfall was easy, but pretty soon after that I needed to get back up to the river road to complete my dazzling circumvention. Unfortunately the only way up was 50 feet of very steep hillside covered in just enough snow to make everything uncertain.

I looked for footprints to show a place where someone had demonstrated proof of concept. I couldn't find any people prints, but finally I found some prints by a deer. A deer on their little hooves had made it up the hill no problem.

Good enough for me.

Now I am a student of the woods and the winds. I study at the feet of Eagles and in the covens of the Flocks of Turkeys. I am informed by the snow and the trees. The clouds tell me my name.

And here is what I learned:

Deer are very agile!


  1. You make me worry. I'm glad to hear that your shortcut didn't land you down in Scorpion Gulch or it's frozen Mississippian equivalent. Who on earth told you to go off trail? Was it the Spirit Turkey or the Power Eagle this time? The squirrel? Aren't they supposed to be hibernating up there now. Lawd!

    1. I am delighted the lord of the shortcut has returned to comment!

      No one hibernates around here, it's crazy!


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