I recently got to do a few miles on the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail. This time of year, it’s rather a lonely place, but I did spy shoe prints, bicycle tracks, and both dog and deer prints in the places where snow still covered the trail.
The day was not actually terribly cold, but it felt like it, with the biting wind. My hands felt frozen inside my gloves, and I dearly wished I had brought a scarf. Nevertheless, as always, it felt so good to be in motion and close to nature.
I wished I could just keep going. When the warm days come, I would love to take my bicycle and do the length of the thing. It traverses the country fields and woods, and a number of small towns. In all, this particular trail extends some 42 miles.
I love the little ghosty things you notice along some of these trails – artifacts of their previous life as a railroad. It’s always delightful to spot an old mile post marker, or to see pieces of the old ties off in the brush. Sometimes there are the empty buildings that obviously stood where they did precisely because of access to the railroad. They had a life, once, and held lives.
I love all that ghosty stuff.
There’s less and less of it, I notice. Progress seems to mean getting rid of things, or updating them to look like something else.
As everything seems to go faster and deeper into all things technology and capitalized, there is something about feeling the slow. When you stand still in those places, it’s the life, the people, you feel. It’s the evidence of personal things, hands-on stuff, the actual relationships that played out in those places that somehow strike one.
As the trail comes into a busier town, it makes me feel more absent, more anonymous, more unseen. Here, there are actual people, not just evidence of them, but there’s a kind of disconnect. They are coming and going, looking at their phones, and hurrying along to the next… what? But I suppose that’s just the way it was, at least in some respects, way back when.
I can’t help but wonder what will we see along the trail some day when we look back.