My wife and I decided to go for a walk in the woods today. Nothing like the Appalachian Trail, mind you, just a short, pleasant walk.
We headed to a trail in Cumberland off Angel Road, the Veronica Geddes Bowen Wildlife Preserve. The area is a 35-acre preserve that runs between Angel Road and the Monastery property on Diamond Hill Road. A very nice, rolling walk through woods.
As we walked along, memories of an early trek in this area came flooding back to me. Hikes from a long time ago, taken here by my two cousins, Dave Moreau and Joe Szpila, and I.
Back then, more than 40 years ago, we would gather at my cousin’s house on Red Gate Road and rehearse our musical talents in our quest to be rock stars.
Needing a break from these intensive creativity sessions, we would wander in the wood through these same trails I now found myself.
The memories of those simpler times bought a smile to my face.
We ambled along, passing old stonewalls that once delineated pastures and boundaries, comprised of stones stacked by the first European settlers, areas once forested, then turned to fields, now returning to forest.
I thought of the Native Americans that once freely roamed here, perhaps for thousands of years, until driven out by those same settlers.
There is a marker, hidden here in these woods, known as Nine Men’s Misery. It commemorates the site of a massacre of nine colonists during King Phillip’s War. As if the misery of the Native Americans, involving their almost total annihilation, was undeserving of such monuments.
I did not appreciate the irony then.
When my cousins and I walked these woods, we enjoyed the innocence of youth. Over the ensuing 40-some years the entanglements and complications of adulthood slowly engulfed us.
Nevertheless, for a few moments today, I recalled those pleasant walks. Undoubtedly we discussed many things we would do in our lives, achieving musical stardom being only around the corner, and did not even realize how good our lives were then.
More than forty years have passed since I last walked these woods. The reality of life is that I do not have another forty years left to wait to do it again. So I will return here, soon.
We all have places, walked with family and friends, that remind us of how precious life is. Ambling along wooded paths, seeing visions of a different time, recalling the laughter shared from innocence, is a great thing.
There is something good in living a life that gives one the opportunity to recall those times. Not in a desire to return to them, but reaping the benefit in the rejuvenation of one’s outlook on life.
Go for a walk in the woods. You never know what memories you will see, or create.
2 thoughts on “Walking into the Past”
Hi Joe. Nice piece here. Your sister Peg was down at my place yesterday (with Aunt Theresa and Uncle Ray, Kathy and Jesse, and my son Jon and granddaughter Katazina) and she showed me this, calling it up on her phone. I do indeed remember those treks in the woods, taking a break from our guitars. Much about the Cumberland of those years does indeed seem distant now, though vivid moments do remain intact, and your reflection brought those back. Somehow I think we knew those times were special, even back then as we lived them.
We were right.
Again, nice piece of writing here.
Indeed, Mr. Szpila we held magic in our hands….