Recently I posted Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese.” Today in the mail I received Wendell Berry’s New and Collected Poems, within which I came across his poem, “The Wild Geese,” originally published in 1973 as part of The Country of Marriage.
We backpacked in the Dolly Sods Wilderness area in West Virginia last weekend. The Lions Head hike, a 21-mille loop that begins and ends on Forest Road 75, was one I’d wanted to do for some time, and we decided last month that we’d go for it over Memorial Day weekend. As it approached, it seemed the weather forecasters concurred that this was a good weekend to be outdoors. So, apparently, did most of the DC-metro region, and they were at Dolly Sods in droves. College types, casual hikers, some families.
Hikingupward.com, where I got the specs for the hike, rates it a 3 out of 5 for solitude. Obviously my judgment will be skewed by having gone over a long weekend comprised of the best three consecutive weather days in recent memory, but I think the 3 is a bit high. To be fair, the hiking didn’t feel crowded, most of the time, so maybe I’d rate that a 2.5. But the camping! The camping! And the group of yelling guys who decided to set up shop nearby — NOT a 3 out of 5! I’ll be generous and say 1.5. Again, who knows — the entire region was out there.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. Continue reading “Wild Geese”→
The first time I was ever intrigued by a bird while walking was when I saw this guy, an indigo bunting, at the end of a trail along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.
We’d just finished a 10-mile hike that we’d thought would be 8, and while it was a good hike, those last two miles dragged. Whether it was the effect of having wearily slogged through the last two miles, sweatily and steadily uphill, or simply the bright blue color, the sight of this bird perked me up and captured my attention. This, after I’d always thought that bird watchers were a bit…. well, loony, if you’ll excuse the pun.