The rain held off enough this morning and my son didn’t have to go to school, so I was able to walk to work. This roughly one and a half miles is along a narrow two lane road with no shoulders, and with the forest right up to its edges. As I walked I could see new blooms of trillium, evergreen violets, miner’s lettuce, and salmon berries, the beginnings of sea-foam, the bright green of new growth on all the moss.
I’ve had interesting experiences over the years of walking to work. Once I stomped angrily down the road yelling at a cougar to get home because I thought it was our Boxer out on the road. Once the Department of Fish and Wildlife, in all their infinite wisdom, released a pack of bear dogs on a black bear without checking the road, where my husband and I were walking. It was a terrifying few moments when an equally terrified bear was caught between dogs and humans. And once my son and I were interviewed by the Seattle Times and ended up with our photo on the front page in an article about alternatives to driving to work. That was really strange.
But the thing about these walks that make them so vital to me, and that I have missed, is that they allow my mind to break free from responsibilities, chores, and worries. I’m allowed to ‘daydream’ my stories and sink into the world of a current work in progress. Right now I am working on a story that is completely different from anything else I have ever written. I’m writing it for myself because it’s a story I want to read, not because I think this one will go anywhere. In a way it’s a path back into the writing world because there isn’t the pressure that exists with writing something to send out to agents. Even though there isn’t that expectation I still am plotting, building characters, and living in a story world. The walk this morning allowed me to see where a certain character needed to be headed. I had her going off in the wrong direction, and the story was starting to pile up against that route. With the soothing rhythm of walking I was able to see where she needs to actually be and how the rest of the problems will then fall in line.
This has happened before when I’ve been stuck in a particular story. But until this morning I’d forgotten how vital a walk in the woods can be. It makes me thankful that the energy levels have come back, that the weather is improving (although I walk in bad weather, too), and that the end of the school year and carpooling to the city is in sight. I am looking forward to many walks to come. And many daydreams.