Foggy, chilly, early morning, in windbreakers and shorts and hiking boots, we tread down the bridge between the trees. We don’t carry much. I look down, careful that we aren’t stepping on roots, as you look quietly, thoughtfully, forward. There is waking all around us. Waking. What sun falls through the trees reaches little eyes everywhere. I hear the sounds of waking, the sounds of morning gratitude. I hear pinecones lazily tumbling through branches. I hear tiny limbs stretching, preparing for first steps after the blessing of overnight rebirth. But loudest is the ground underneath us. The pieces of earth that welcome every footfall, in spite of our rigid rubber soles, which snap and crack hidden little sticks. I fall in love with the fine layer of soil between my shoe and the bridge. The divine dirt that grinds softly against the wood, etching a pattern that only my footsteps could make, and only right now. Only right now, amid the fog and the waking.
Relentlessly playful dewdrops come to sit on my shoulders and the tops of my hands. I look up at you, miles and miles up, and see them perching at the tips of your every hair. My impulse is strong to reach up and touch, to feel the dew that pretends you are blonder, to feel the slight sweat developing on your temples, to draw my fingers down the sides of your face and stay there. But I don’t, because we are walking, and because I am waking, and because we will stop when we should. I am quite sure of the cold in the usual places (my knees, my collarbones, my nose, my knuckles), but I am not really aware of it; my senses are reserved. They grab on to the off-trail creaking and warbling, and to the ambrosia of daybreak: I breathe the cool wind that gets caught in jagged tree bark, drink the water that has seeped into each leaf overnight, smell the sweet dirt that flicks up to coat my ankles. Light has come, I realize, and we walk until the fog begins its recession back into the cloud that has kindly, though briefly, let it visit the woods this morning.
Again my eyes follow the endlessly tall trees ever upward, deeply (almost desperately) hoping to see you there, too. And I do, you’re still there next to me, and I surprise myself by making a small sound. A chirp, almost. It loosens you from the past hour, from the reverie that made you seem, to me, so calm and untroubled as the sleeping hatchlings in nests above. I do not know what you have been dreaming of as we’ve walked, but as you look down at me, little me, my tiny limbs stretching and my eyes opening wide, you call down.
We have come to this place to walk, to wake, the first to arrive and the very last to leave, and Day has again blessed us to move along together.