Back on that Horse

Posted by Jane N on

I relayed this story to a couple of you at the family reunion but wanted to share it with all of you, plus add an update.
About a week before family reunion I was at the cabin alone to get things ready. The weather was pleasant so I decided to take a hike on the trail along the river to look for birds, it's about a 4-mile loop. As you all have seen the lake is very high and the high water left a lot of debris along the trail as it receded. The trail was muddy, with all sorts of rocks and branches and even fallen trees littering the path.
As I was walking along suddenly my toe got caught on a branch across the trail. In what seemed like slow motion I fell hard onto a pile of logs and branches. I tried to break my fall by putting my hands out but my hand pushed right through the soft wet wood and I hit the side of a log face first. The log pushed into my cheek and I could taste blood. At the time I wasn't sure if I had bitten my tongue or the inside of my cheek, but it sure hurt either way.
My bird bag that I had across my shoulder came around and hit me hard in the back of the head. My binoculars swung forward and hit me in the side of my jaw. I laid there in a tangle for a few seconds trying to assess the possible damage. My knees and legs were cut and bleeding, my right wrist hurt really bad, the back of my head hurt, but the worst was my cheek. I still wasn't sure where the blood I was tasting was coming from.
Of course, then I do the typical “look around, did anyone see me do that stupid thing” move. But I was alone on the trail, it was a quiet weekday. So I slowly stand up and brush myself off and get my bearings. Ok, now what, I'm about 2 miles from the cabin, I've got to walk back I have no other choice. I sit on a rock for a bit till I stop shaking, I have a sip of water to rinse out my mouth. Then there is no other choice I stand up and start the hike back to the cabin.
That was the longest walk back to the cabin ever! As soon as I got back I checked out my mouth, it seems I bit the inside of my cheek pretty bad but the bleeding had stopped by then. I washed myself off, put ointment on all the scratches and wrapped my wrist. I sat in the rocking chair on the porch with a cold ginger ale and read a magazine. I figured I deserved it.
I was concerned that my face would be bruised for the family reunion and I would have to explain my appearance to everyone. But luckily the discoloration on my face didn't last long. I had some bruising and cuts on my legs but it was so cold over reunion weekend I kept pants on most of the time and none of you noticed. Those of you that I told my story to all agreed that I had to stop taking chances, to be more careful. You made me promise NOT to go off on my own in the woods anymore. After all, I was 60 years old now, no spring chicken any longer just an old hen.
Well, I tried to follow your advice. I was at the cabin alone for four last days of summer before going back to work, the weather was great. I sat on the porch, I sat by the lake, I took leisurely walks along the dirt road. But DAMN IT! I have wasted too many years battling anxiety and panic attacks, always in fear of doing anything! Afraid to go anywhere! Always waiting for something bad to happen and sure it would if I didn't dot my I's and cross my T's perfectly and never ever stepping on a crack in the sidewalk! Afraid always afraid. DAMN IT! I just turned 60 and I'm glad to still be alive. I have to except that I'm more than ½ way done my time here on earth, that I'm closer to death than I am to birth.
So I put on my hiking shoes, strung my binoculars around my neck, slung my bird bag stuffed with my bird book, plastic baggie with tissues, water bottle and molasses cookies across my shoulder and headed back to the trail along the river. What's that saying? “When you fall off the horse you gotta get right back on”. Well, I got right back on that horse! I hiked along that muddy debris littered trail on a quiet weekday all alone. I clambered over the wet rocks at the river's edge and sat enjoying the sound of the rushing waters. I slipped and slide along the muddy trail into the cool dense woods. I had a great day alone in the woods!
Of the 9 possible Woodpeckers I could see in our area I saw 6 along that one walk. From the smallest Hairy Woodpecker to the largest Pileated Woodpecker. I saw the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, and the Northern Flicker. The best sighting was of a Black-backed Woodpecker, with his glossy black patent leather looking back and head topped by a blaze of yellow. He was so busy searching the dead log for bugs he paid no attention to me as I stood and watched him for a good 5 minutes. I saw this bird because I did it, I ventured into the dark dense dead parts of the forest where he lives. I did it, I got back on that horse. Birding has saved me.
Love Ya All. Jane
P.S. of course now I worry something bad will happen because I just confessed to my fears. I re-read this twice I'm pretty certain I dotted all my I's and crossed all my T's. I hope.

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