Here in the Blue Ridge, this Monday morning of Memorial Day, where I’m hiking, I am alone. The trail is mostly dirt, gentle up hills, down hills, switch backs, a few steeper climbs. The perfect hike to warm up my hiking legs. The path cuts through a field where tall grasses grow. Wildflowers. Now an opening After hiking through a large field to an open meadow. Leaving the meadow, I sit on moss, pen in hand when I see a hiker approaching. A young man wearing shorts, a white shirt, cap, a small pack on his back, he hums his way along the trail, sees me, or I see him. I say “Hello.”
Hardly pausing he says, in a voice that sings more than it speaks, “Hello, how are you?”
And he’s on his way, humming, again.
A breeze stirs the air. In the pale blue sky, the rumble of an engine. A plane I can’t see. I love these colors, this particular blue of the sky, these leaves on the mountain laurel, on birch and beech. Conifers.
An artist at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts where I’m in residence loves color. Vibrant color that dances and sings. His colors come to him as he paints, and he describes for me a white rabbit, a golden monkey, a dancer spinning inside her red dress. I see only shape and texture. Color, of course.
On the trail again, I pass the hiker who passed me. He’s sitting on a rock beside a stream, lighting a small burner, eating breakfast or lunch at nine forty in the morning. At a trail junction, I notice that my reading glasses are gone. They slipped through space between the waist band of my trousers and the waistband of my pack. Go back? Continue on? I’ll need to come up with a better system for carrying my glasses. This will be the second lost pair of reading glasses in as many hikes.
Now, on the Appalachian Trail, I’m meeting section hikers, a through hiker, a young woman, heading to Maine. I’m thinking about my glasses again, when I hear a voice. “Ma’am, did you drop some glasses.”
The humming hiker. In his hand, my case with the purple swirls.