Saturday, July 05, 2008

Paths

I’ve been thinking about paths lately. The one just outside my door was built by and for friendship. Made of slate donated by a friend who moved away, it meanders down the slight rise from my step, sidles along the dog fence, and rounds the corner before ending at my landlady, Eileen’s, back door. It alleviates the muddy track we’d worn in the yard between our two dwellings and gives my little cottage a fairy-tale appearance.

Like any number of paths, this one evolved over the past several months. I came home one day last year in early June to find my friend making a trail of small white stones in the grass. Piled around him were two-dozen slate slabs. Together we sorted them and laid them this way and that, working our way to the corner of the fence. We ran out of filler stone and slabs at the same time.

For a while, the path languished. I hopped and skipped to my door on the ones that were there until another day in mid-summer brought my friend with more stones and a few more slabs. By then, the hollyhocks that surround my cottage were reaching for the sky, their blossoms every imaginable shade of pink.

The finished path has become a magical thing, a connection of earth and stone and good intentions leading from my door to Eileen’s. More than just a walkway, it’s a declaration of affection, a composite of artistry and shared work that connects the three of us in a more subtle way than the obvious stones linking both doors. I can’t walk it without thinking of friendship.

Paths always lead somewhere. Beyond my slate walkway, at the far end of my yard, is what my granddaughter, Sophia, calls the Secret Path, a narrow trail through a small stand of woods that leads from my yard to my neighbor’s. You have to duck under the lower hanging branches and skip over the fallen ones, all the while dodging summer spider web strands or winter snow showers. Once on the path, you disappear from sight, as though some magic there made you part of the small forest. At the neighbor’s end is sunlight and a square sand pile bristling with Tonka trucks.

A path of convenience, this small connector has also become a place of enchantment. There might be a majestic spider web fraught with dew glimmering between two trees. Some small animal might dart in front of you. Some flower you hadn’t noticed before might be blooming in secret under the leaf mold. Standing in the green gloom of the trees, the glittering promise of sunlight at either end can make you catch your breath.

Paths are like that. You think you know where you’re starting from and where you’ll end up but the space in between can change you. A path that looks as though it simply leads from one place to another can be, in secret, a pathway to the heart.

11 comments:

windblownbutterfly said...

How beautifully described! You make me want to get outside right this very moment (at 11:00 at night) and plant hollyhocks and lay a meandering stone path to a friend's house.

Barbara said...

What a thought-provoking post. The pieces of slate are such a tangible affirmation of your friendship with your land-lady and with the person who helped you lay them. I love the picture of the other path with its overhanging spider webs. You find such beauty in what might seem ordinary to some folks.

meggie said...

A very thought provoking post. Pathways of all kinds in our lives... lots to ponder.
Love your images, perhaps the growth between the pavers is my favourite part.

Kip de Moll said...

Like that "growth between the pavers" your entry is full of the depth of life between each line of your words, punctuated by the "pathway to the heart".
I'm transported to a trail I built 30 years ago in Oregon connecting my home with my sister's, now apparently all grown over with the dense, fecund undergrowth. I will return there soon, after 20 years, with my son and see if we can find the stones I placed as steps. I'll let you know the outcome.

Pauline said...

thanks wind - I've walked this path at the time of night in the moonlight...

barbara - the beauty is always there. I've simply allowed myself to notice...

meggie - periodically I trim that growth but I like it, too - it makes the path look as though it belongs there.

kip - I have family members in Oregon. Have a wonderful visit and uncover as many paths as possible

orgasmik said...

The path of the roots moving in the soil, the path of the buds not yet flowers,the path of the particles in the sun beams,the path where words become silence,the path to call of the unknown.....a path where love sits awaiting the heart of man to open....But, here i'm to thankyou for having found your path to
'Buddha's garbage 'and leaving your gentle comment.

Pauline said...

Aren't paths mysterious? You set off along one, not really sure what might happen along the way. I wound my circuitous way to your site through theelementary and found a prince! (I read your profile and the frog question.)

Ruth D~ said...

This is only the beginning of what we could tell of paths . . . and you tell your story beautifully. So evocative. Makes me want to write a tale of my own paths. There are also the cyber paths we trek each day as we visit friend blogs. :>)

Mother of Invention said...

Paths are fascinating as are gates! And I'm wondering what "the path of least resistance" looks like?!!

Your garden looks yummy! I love fresh peas right from the garden or field!

focusfinder said...

So the end of alarm clocks and ten-hour workdays leads to a better pathway at last, eh?

Eileen said...

I really loved your blog about our paths and I realize it's going to be a way for me to visit my house when you take pictures of our place and talk about it. You write what I think and never say.