I wake up later on Sunday morning as a result of the previous night's garden party. The rest of the morning is spent thinking about perennial grains and, into the afternoon, waiting and waiting and waiting for the clothes machine to finish washing and spinning my clothes.
This machine is quite incredible and I will someday post a picture of it (TODO). It's a big box with a lid that opens and, inside, there is a metal cylinder with its axis parallel the top of the box. You turn this around by hand till you find a big metal clasp which you open allowing access to the interior of the cylinder. The clothes go in, you close the clasp, you close the lid, you press a button, there are locking sounds, and then you pray. The washing mode sounds like a normal machine, but the dry-spinning mode is terrifying and we close the bathroom door (where the machine is) and our bedroom doors and try to hide from its jet-engine roar. The whole process lasts two hours or more.
When it's all over I'm fed up with being inside, so I pull on a still-damp pair of underwear (you'd think with all that noise and time everything would be perfectly dry, but no) and my hiking shirt and invite Ping and Madisen to join me on a walk. Ping takes me up on it and we head out into the evening.
The other day, on the way home from work, I discovered a map of the forest trails and have it vaguely in my head as we walk towards the hill I want to climb. But I also have in my head a number of other trails I've hiked and, though each trail is different, there's a commonality of construction which informs the placement of trail entrances.
Our walk leads us through town with me turning down likely seeming streets until, suddenly, we find it. The entrance.
From there we ascend on a rocky road towards the marge of the forest, where the trail will really begin. On the way, we have views of the surrounding landscape which is, in a word, perfect.
Leastwise the scene below reminded me of perfection, though it couldn't be captured by a camera. It was the sweeping expanse of those hills in the evening light that struck me as beautiful. Shortly thereafter, the trail reached the marge of the woods and we beheld again a map of the trails and decided on one which looked as though it wouldn't be too too long. After that, the trail climbed steeply. The woods on the left had, I think, been logged off at some point, whereas the woods on the right were taller trees with very little underbrush. Looking down, I could see the group of apartments I live in.
Along the way, Ping speaks of China and trying to finish her PhD dissertation and I inwardly continue an existential struggle regarding life. I'd known that coing here would evoke existential questions and that the decision to come was at least partly an invitation and an embrace of that struggle, but it is still tiresome. One of the qualities of a new place is a losing a sense of where you stand in the world and what your relative abilities are, especially so when one's work is close to the edge of one's competency. It's a good place to do work and a good place to learn, but everything must be done very intentionally.
At the top of the hill, the trail splits in several directions and we depart our map-chosen course in favour of a more scenic-looking trail which still seems to be heading the “right way”. This takes us through thick pine trees (still oddly little undergrowth) to a cutting in the trees where a giant cross looms over the town. From there, we follow the edge of the hill downwards and around along a small road, dodge off onto a footpath through the trees, and come out where we'd originally thought we would.
I'm looking forward to more forays into these trails and hopefully one day using them to get to or from work!
The lower part of the hill on the left is where I took the panorama from the other day.