In my former
life job as a TV news producer, my boss once told me, “It’ll be a lot worse than this,” as I hesitantly made repeated calls to the same retired government engineer, from whom we needed a quote. “When there’s a tragedy, we’ll be knocking on victims’ doors, ambushing them with a camera. It’s the reality of the job.” I think I would’ve quit before doing that, on the spot, on location. Fortunately, I quit before I was ever faced with the decision.
I was reminded of all of this while taking in the abundant coverage on the Newtown shooting this weekend. I, honestly, avoided as much of it as I could. I didn’t shy away from the truth of what happened, the horrific nature of it. I welled up with emotion and pain and hurt every time I thought about it and saw images from Connecticut. I felt unsafe. That bubble mindset, that shell of self-preserving protective thought, “It won’t happen here, to me,” disappeared for me this weekend, it disappeared for all of us. Those gunshots tore through our protective layers and left me raw and exposed. I felt like there is no cover, there is no bubble, there is no protective shield anymore – that’s what it means to take the lives of children, of babies, of little ones. It means we lose our footing, our sense of safety, our source of pride in living in a good neighborhood, a protected house, a well-meaning community. It shatters that mindset that we so desperately need to stay sane.
So I went hiking.
Losing myself in the woods, somewhere picturesque with leaves un-raked, fallen how they fell and runners and fellow hikers stopping to chat and pet Theo, “hello,” – I needed that this weekend, to reconstruct my sanity, heck – to find some sanity. The sun was shining, and the water was glimmering in that shine, and crisp air kept us rejuvenated but our jackets zipped. In the woods, with Theo running and fetching and sniffing like nothing in the world could be wrong and Zander and me incorrectly reading trail marks and wandering knowing we’d come out on the right side no matter which route we took – it felt like a piece of sanity and clarity and relief from the insanity on the other side of the trail.
We woke up tired and Zander sore, but something kept pushing us along, and I’m so glad we went, and I’m so grateful for the peace and tranquility and community of a set of woods and a well-worn trail.
Hemlock Overlook is an easy 4 mile loop with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain…… if you figure out the trail markings! There’s a complicated set of blues, reds, yellows markings. The good news is that if you just start hiking, you can’t get too lost, and if you do, you can make the loop and out-and-back and head back the way you came. It’s beautiful – marshy on the river shore and rocky near the water. It’s a very dog friendly hike, even off leash. I recommend LocalHikes for more information, including directions. Bonus! The hike entrance is mere steps from Paradise Springs winery – the makings of a perfect day.