Mornings in the Spring are truly a little piece of heaven. Sitting in my backyard, looking up at the small, lush, mountain which is home to the ledges trail, I can imagine right about where the viewpoint is. Only this morning, I can't quite see it anymore because over the course of a few weeks, nature has fully awakened and filled in every nook and cranny. This is the second day in row I've woken up before 6 AM to head outside in the quiet morning light to soak up some green goodness before the rest of my day gets rolling. Its hard to imagine just a few short months ago that the trees were bare, the grass was brown and the ground was covered with snow. This transition from the cold, slow Winter to the alive, active Spring often feels like it takes forever, and then once its here feels like it always has been.
The past few days we've seen more summery than springy temps, which I think prompted me to rise earlier than normal, hoping to enjoy the outdoors some before the heat and humidity got to heavy. As the sweet Irene Gibson, mother extraordinaire to my husband, says in the early mornings: "Rise and be shiny!" So yesterday I snuck out before my kiddo was up, hopped on my bike and rode over to the trail head.
Somehow in the warm weather, sweat is more inviting. Or maybe just expected, thereby seeming more normal? Or maybe because it was still a cool morning and not a hot day yet, it just felt good to get my blood pumping. Many a hiker were out yesterday with similar notions. Many a bird, many a squirrel (no doubt friends of Sir Knight's), many a leaf... all quite good company. I wondered what might come to mind as cruised on up. Garden. Book reports. Canoe camping. New books too read. The illusive internship to plan. Not much took root, however, which was rather delightful. It felt good to let go of the things on my mind. I felt prompted by the Spring to just grow, breath, enjoy, walk.
This morning as sit and write, my child has since joined me, the sun has since popped over the hill, and I feel prompted to get my day going. I feel tapped into the movement of the day and the lists of my life are beginning to run. My intention, however, is to bring the serenity from the wee morning hours with me, as the day gets rolling and the sun gets cooking. Grateful for my morning retreat, its time once again to "rise and be shiny!"
The past two week's hikes were full of green leaves popping, friends and neighbors and our kiddos. Last week, (week 19 if you're counting), our awesome neighbor Jess McGlynn with her two small humans hit the trail with me and my small human. The leaves had literally JUST opened from buds and I felt like throughout most of the hike my jaw was hung open in awe. What a difference a week makes! Leaves leaves leaves! And then yesterday, (week 20 - jeez Louise - how is the time flying so fast?), my little one and I were joined by the fabulous Matt Gourney and his sweet lil' 7 month old girl who are visiting from Ithaca, NY. More Spring green, more opening buds, more life, activity and energy buzzing in the forest.
Hiking with my son is one of my most favorite things to do. You know, walking along, holding hands, looking at bugs and trees and just being together in the woods. During these past two hikes I saw a glimpse of a growing boy when he - sniff - refused to hold my hand. To be fair, it wasn't like he refused during the whole hike, but normally he is all about, well, holding my hand! Even though it might have stung for a bit, I'm actually very proud of him for walking one step at a time towards independence. Our love for our children explodes into our hearts like lightening when they're born, so thank God their growth into self-sufficient beings happens in little moments like this day after day. I can only handle so much growing up at a one time!
Two weeks on the ledges trail with my kiddo also made me appreciate my solo hikes more. I've come rely on this hike as a time to reflect and filter out the sometimes loud noises of life, parenting and daily on-goings. As much as I love being in the woods with my child, there's also the fact that I often have to drag him up the hill, quell the whining, carry him upon occasion, etc. In the midst of all that mommying, and all the little joys too, there's not much time for self reflection. I suppose its just nice be reminded that I need to take the time for just me, as well as time to nurture my family and bond with friends. A little balance, ya know?
In the midst of all the Spring magic and (finally!) warmer temps, I shifted gears this last week from pumping out homework and book reports for my therapeutic music studies to getting the garden in gear. This is the first time since moving into our Bristol home that I've been able to dedicate some time to getting the garden and backyard up and rolling to grow fruits and veggies. We are unbelievably blessed to have about 2400 square feet of a garden that was just WAY too much for me to wrap my brain around, and for 2 years it has been weeds, weeds, weeds. So. With my honey away last week on business I committed all my spare moments to clearing the scene. Then I had the whole thing tilled, I put 1/2 the space back to grass, and with absolute glee and a little guidance from the wonderful Jill Kopel and Anthony Kessler, I planted our garden! First garden ever! So exciting... I feel a bit like a kid in a candy shop, as its all I can think about.
From here I move into the next stage, which is protecting it from the resident animals, of which there are many. Mainly, woodchucks. Dun dun dun. And I also move back into book reports and internship planning. Its a little hard to imagine putting my head in a book, with so much to do in the yard and the sun shining so brightly, but that's what shady trees and lawn furniture is for, right?
Once upon a time there was a mommy and a little boy who very much loved the playful fairies that lived in their backyard. Often the fairies would leave them treasures, like shells and marbles and colored sea glass to collect. One day they decided to build these secretive, magical beings a little home of their own, located just so, where mother and son could keep an eye on it from their breakfast table. Many a morning these two would look out upon the fairy abode and see a furry, brownish-gray squirrel bouncing and prancing about in the mulch near the fairy kingdom. He must be tending to and protecting the fairies from danger, they thought, and so they decided to name the gallant creature Sir Knight, The Fairy Saver.
Soon, mother and child realized that Sir Knight had a mighty army that spanned the surrounding neighborhood and forest. Why, you could see members of his troops all over town! There were indeed Fairy Savers on every corner and every hike and trail the family encountered. Even the fairy-skeptical father couldn’t deny that Sir Knight’s troops were far and wide, and had truly infiltrated the region. Most certainly their thorough presence was to serve a higher purpose: to protect and watch out for the gentle and joyful fairies living in the great outdoors.
And so began the wonderful legend of Sir Knight, The Fairy Saver!
Its been my utter delight to build fairy houses with my son the past few years. I realize I might be fulfilling my fantasy more than his, but I’m quite sure it can’t hurt, and he seems to enjoy the imagination journey as much as I do. I mean, who doesn’t love finding treasures in the leaves and dirt?! This time of year, all sorts of little critters are making themselves known in our backyard, Sir Knight among them. A few days ago on my hike, I met members of his army at every turn. Never seen so many squirrels! They’re a benevolent crew, thank goodness, and made for quite jolly companions as I journeyed up and down the hill for my weekly adventure.
I’ve had an idea brewing for over a month now, and it was on this hike in particular I allowed myself to go into full visionary mode. Besides Sir Knight’s army, I hardly noticed my surroundings as I let my idea bubble and pop in all possible directions. What is this idea, you ask? Well, I’m not quite ready to make a public proclamation yet as I’m not sure if its feasible, but I’ll know more soon. And I’ll keep you posted! I will say this, however: Sir Knight and his crew most certainly heard me babbling to myself as I trekked along my hike the other day. If you are kind to the fairies you might be able to get a few juicy details from them!
It was such a pleasure to take a week's vacation in sunny San Diego, California. Not only did I visit my parents and catch up on some much needed grandparent bonding and mother-father-daughter bonding, but I reveled in the warmth and sunshine of the West Coast. Oh, it felt so divine to soak up all the vitamin D my body could muster, put my toes in the ocean, enjoy the company of my mom and dad, and watch them play with my kiddo. I adore my home here in Vermont, but these are the things and people I miss the most.
This Thursday's hike brought about a clearing of the jet lag sluggies, (a technical term I've probably adopted from my husband who is a master at making his own language.) I'm one of those weirdos who isn't really affected by time change in the beginning, but 3 or 4 days along it hits me like a brick wall. Tuesday's unwelcome snowstorm was on that 4th day. As the late beloved Prince sang, "sometimes it snows in April." But come Thursday afternoon, once again, the sunshine melted away all evidence of Winter and signs of Spring were back in full force. A little hike was just what I needed to get back in the flow of the season. Little brown and red buds making themselves known; sprouts of green grass popping up; ferns shaking off the dust of winter and stretching for the light.
My uphill climb was full of nothing but pumping blood and easy Springtime observations. I don't know about y'all, but when I'm burning calories and shedding a little sweat, I don't tend to think about much except to put one foot in front of the other and how to engage my core or shift my weight so that my knees stay safe. Its the downhill when my mind wakes up more and I get curious about whatever is going on in my world and the world around me. These days, that's therapeutic music.
I've had a big shift in stress levels ever since I decided to pick one career-enhancing move at a time. Therapeutic music is something I was introduced to through my experience with the Wellspring Singers and Addison County's Hospice Volunteer Services. At the end of my year of training through a board certified program called Music for Healing Transition Program, (MHTP), and a subsequent internship, I will become an official CMP, or a Certified Music Practitioner. Woohoo! A CMP is someone who provides live therapeutic music at the bedside to create a healing environment. In my case, I'll be singing! Ultimately, I'd love to learn to play the harp to accompany myself, but for now I'm just using my voice and some tonal percussion instruments. In fact, this weekend I have my 5th of 5 weekend-long classes down in New Jersey. And in this particular class we get to sing/play for patients in a hospital! I'm really looking forward to it, and so grateful to have found a way to both serve others and share my love of music.
As I cruised on down the hill, I thought about my upcoming internship and what I need to do to make it happen. I imagined how I might make space in
my life and where it might be. I got curious about what my life might look like when I'm done and how my commute and life patterns will shift. Mostly I felt super blessed, and lemme tell you, I was riding those fresh endorphins! I'm so blessed to be supported by my family, blessed to be flowing my heart, blessed to be able to give to others in a way that totally fills me up. And blessed to be living right next to a badass little hiking trail where I can figure it all out.
Hi, my name is Ali Dawson Gibson. I'm a healer, a singer and a teacher. This Blog, 52 Weeks of the Ledges, is from 2016 when I hiked this awesome Bristol Ledges trail once and week and shared my experiences. Enjoy!