I’ve written often about my walking pals, Rob and Michael, and the fabulous little book that has become one of our inspirations, “I Left My Sole in Vermont,” by Nicole Grubman. This gem describes two dozen+ walks in and around Central Vermont, all of which are “loop” walks mainly on back country roads. Yesterday found us on a variation of Walk #5 where we took a “shortcut” through the woods on one of the East Montpelier hiking trails.
The amazing young woman who wrote this book has an ancient soul. As for the notion of a loop walk, she suggests one often ends up in a different place by the time we return to where we began the walk—an experience I often have. “Here I am once again for the first time,” as she says!
I am pulled toward these 4-6 mile walks in any season for a number of reasons. First, these are backcountry roads and places I’m familiar with but they always appear newly. The pace of walking is an exceptional meditation revealing an entirely new world compared to driving and promoting wonderful conversation with walking friends. No need to worry about traffic as we often are passed by only a handful of cars or tractors.
Second, the beauty of the day—regardless of weather—is always evident. A sharp November wind out of the north that has me pulling my collar tight or a muggy up-hill trudge toward inviting shade (and all the rest between those extremes) allow me to feel an aliveness that is all too often allusive in today’s climate-controlled life.
Third, these walks take us back in time, where it becomes easy to imaging life fifty or a hundred years ago, not romanticized it but picking from it what has retained value over all these years: the dirt roads, the smells of manure being spread, the pointer-finger wave of the person driving by in their dirty truck, the birds flitting in and out of the brush along the road and, perhaps my most favorite thing, seeing the old roadside trees, full of holes and dead limbs and a century or more of living.
If you are looking for a present to give someone—including your Self—Nicole’s book could be at the top of your list. You can buy it at this link or in local stores in and around Montpelier, like Bear Pond Books, The Book Garden or Onion River Sports. If you don’t live in Central Vermont, don’t worry! It is still fine reading and my guess is you’ll be inspired to find your own loop walks wherever you live and, possibly, come to Vermont to try out a few of the originals as well.
When we ended out walk yesterday, in the place we began, our world had been transformed into a view that, honestly, seems to be the gates of heaven.