Still Learning To See

A walk back in time

EM-2663I’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.

EM-2653The 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!

EM-2664I 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.

EM-2665 EM-2652Second, 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.

EM-2655 EM-2647Third, 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.

EM-2667If 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.


This entry was published on December 11, 2015 at 10:38 am. It’s filed under John Snell, John Snell Photographer, Photograph, Vermont and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “A walk back in time

  1. Ah, John–Thoreau spoke so eloquently about walking, and you are one of his “saunterers”!

    “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks–who had a genius, so to speak, for SAUNTERING, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a

    In the end, all of nature is “holy land”–thanks for sharing your delight and insight 🙂

  2. Carole Naquin on said:

    Thank you so much for info on this delightful book. Great gift for my walking friends!

  3. It will not surprise you that I am very attracted to the abstracted quality and attention to surface/texture in the photos of the rooflines & the barn doors. The introduction of a strong “dose” of color in those two, offset by tiny areas of its complement: the orange corner in the upper right of the barn window paired with the green cupola shutters, and the line of green grass opposing the red of the barn doors and the upper part of that barn wall — all set against in a field of neutral gray/browns. It’s a very lovely and thoughtful effect.
    Thank you too for the book suggestion!

  4. Deborah Leu on said:

    Your comments are as wonderful as the photos. I love country walks. Although it’s nice to have the beach nearby here, I do miss the more rural character of northeastern CT, where we used to live.

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