Sunday we went for a hike up a popular hill on the edge of town. Echo, pictured above, hiked most of the mile ascent on her own, with only a few minutes spent in the backpack. She held hands with Grammy (a.k.a GrammyLammy, and GramCracker) for the majority of her climb. She spent her time absorbing the splendor of the spring hillside, and deciding which rocks on the path were best for sitting and which were best for stepping. She studied bouquets of Yarrow growing near the trail, and giggled when I told her that some people call the plant Gopher Tail. At one point she bent low and gently cupped a Lupine blossom, and whispered, “This is the most beautiful one of all.”
Of course, her pace was excruciatingly slow. And Natalie, when she’s out to move her body, likes to move – not haul, but keep stepping. And Grammy, though dedicated, eventually started to get worn out by the games Echo wanted to play and the gymnastic endeavor of helping Echo navigate the rocky, grass-clumpy trail. So, I told the ladies to feel free to go on and we would meet them at the top, and I had the good fortune of getting to take over guiding the wee adventurer.
And I am glad I did, because while I was walking in front of them, I, too found Echo and Grammy’s pace stifling, but when I got to hold the girl’s hand, and see what she was seeing and hear what she was hearing, I was suddenly privy to pleasures of which I was hardly taking advantage at all before.
Without looking at the trail, or up ahead at the destination, and instead, like Echo, looking at where we were and noticing what was all around us, I became engrossed with the splendor of every step. Suddenly, Meadow Larks were slicing through my senses with their songs. The hillside was lit up with colors of every hue, spread out into the distance all around us like the canvas of a Monet. The breeze danced in our hair. The scent of honey and wildflowers sailed on the air.
If I hadn’t gotten the chance to escort Echo, I might have missed it. If I hadn’t slowed down to her pace and gotten down to her level to share in her perspective, I might not have remembered/noticed all there was to experience on the way. If I’d have stayed focussed on the destination alone, I would’ve missed the journey.
And I am so glad I didn’t miss it. So glad I didn’t miss the sound of the birds, or the smell of the flowers, or the feel of the breeze, or experiencing where we were. So glad I didn’t miss “the most beautiful one of all”.