Leaving Behind (Tissue) Crumbs

http://hip2bmom.com/2011/08/21/trail-of-breadcrumbs/Getting lost is a hazard in my everyday life. Thus, routine can feel safe and cozy.

Normally, when I leave the house with my brain wired for, let’s say – “grocery store” – I barely think about how I turn left out of the driveway, right down the hill, and then left onto the Boulevard. Instead, I concentrate on work (shoot, did I send off that e-mail to the Board?) or family (should I buy the grandkids the wacky whale t-shirt, or will my daughter-in-law hate it?) or my guy (anniversary coming up – can I convince him we should celebrate with a weekend trip to ‘fill-in-the-blank’?).

Before the answer forms, I’m parked in front of the grocery store.

But now, we’ve just moved to a new state, a new town, and a million ways for me to get lost.

Use my cell phone GPS app, you advise?

Oh, I cannot tell you the many ways that miraculous cell-enriched voice (I call her Suzie) has saved me these last couple of weeks.

But she grows silent when I attempt a hike in the woods.http://marysbeagooddogblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/wild-turkeys-can-make-you-love-them.html

Living now in New England, where there are more wild turkeys than humans and more forests than pavement, I register for a class entitled “Autumn Walks in the Woods” that promises I’ll learn new “hidden wooded paths and trails and historical locations, while viewing scenery from up high, or strolling around local ponds.”

Perhaps this four-week wooded session is the key to navigating my way around a new “old world” location without getting lost.

The only way to register is on-line, and the only directions I receive for the first walk are as follows: “King Phillip’s Woods at 29 before the bridge.”

Having never met King Phillip nor a 29, and having crossed many bridges, I’m not sure how to meet the group. But I google the directions and optimistically follow them. Thirty minutes later, after crossing many bridges and desperately searching for some sighting of King Phillip, I spy a tiny wooden sign that bears his name, and a small dirt driveway with six parked cars. Bingo!

woods, trail, walk in the woodsBut soon after I begin my trek, the narrow tree- and shrub-lined path turns into a fork.

Robert Frost asks, “Which road will you take?”

I don’t have a clue.

Suzie the GPS voice is silent. If I become lost in these woods, I’ll never be found.

My nervous fingers discover an old tissue in my pocket.

I tear a tiny piece off and carefully lay it on a low-hanging leaf.

I follow the path until the next fork, and leave a part of my tissue behind, and the next, until I run out of tissue, and thus, courage.

I turn around and pick up my crumbs of disappointment (as well as each piece of tissue) upon not finding the group until I reach the beginning point.

NOT LOST!

And suddenly, I’m proud of my ingenuity and gutsiness.

I realize then that as long as I can leave behind some kind of crumbs, following Frost’s fork instead of sticking to a routine might be the best way to explore new worlds.

Are you a forked path-follower, or does a cozy routine help you find your way?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;  Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim Because it was grassy and wanted wear, Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day!  Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

41 thoughts on “Leaving Behind (Tissue) Crumbs

  1. If there were an award for bravery in a new place, I would give it to you. And shame on Suzie for losing her voice right when you needed her most. Being one of the unfortunates born without a direction gene, I have to say I prefer those big yellow footprints glued ahead of me on any path, otherwise I get lost, and choosing either fork in the road is equally hopeless.

    • Not only would the crumbs have been eaten, but it was drizzling out, so they would have become soggy and unseen. Bad news: I never did find the walking group that day. Good news: I’m slated to try again this week: new hiking place, new directions!
      xoxox massivehugstoyouxoxo

  2. I call my navigation system Missy. You are very brave hiking in the woods like that. I am clueless when it comes to direction, especially in the woods. Did you ever find your group?

  3. dear daughter – so glad you got home!! How about YELLING – that sound
    echoes in woods – oops – you might get a fox L marcia

  4. Pam, you might not be quite ready for this yet, but the key for us directionally-challenged hikers is to bring a dog. I can plunge fearlessly ahead with my two boys into the woods without a clue of where I’m going, and then when I’m ready to turn back I tell them, “Okay! Find the car!” and they do, unerringly. I know Henry can never be replaced in your heart, but you might be able to find room for someone new?

    • You are so wonderful to suggest (gently) that a new doggie companion will help me find my way (probably in many ways). You made me think about my past exploits in walking sites unknown, and you’re right! When I took Henry with me, I never worried about being lost. Sigh. Imagining you in the woods with your ‘boys’ makes me smile. I’ll get there …. but it will be a while.

  5. I have discovered some cool places here in Minot by ‘getting lost.’ I’ve been here four years and can still discover new places, new paths – if only I’m ready with my bravery, and a little extra time.

    • Sometime you should blog about the places you’ve discovered by getting lost in Minot. Many of us have never been in your ‘neck of the woods,’ and we would LOVE to learn more about it.

  6. I find I think of other things while I’m driving and I really have to snap myself out of it and concentrate on the road. I don’t have a GPS because I tell my husband I have an ‘uncanny sense of direction’ and he always rolls his eyes at this comment. I’m glad you found your way home (and the tissue was a great idea) 😉

    • Ha Ha. I love the description of the husbandly eye-roll as you brag about your uncanny sense of direction. I envy you! But yes, part of my problem also is that I day dream while driving. Many a time I snap out of it and say, out loud, “Where am I and where am I going?”

  7. Excellent Pam, and what a metaphor for life itself 🙂 The road less travelled. Our little jogging group here in Jersey (only 45 square miles) is forever getting lost and how much more fun it is than to go the obvious route.

    • It’s the comfort of company, isn’t it? Getting lost with others is an adventure. Getting lost alone is downright scary. But I love reading about your ‘little’ jogging Jersey group. Impressed (and imagine the area you run is beautiful).

  8. Loved this, and have NO doubt your way is the very best to get to know a new place, a new ‘neck of the woods’. As usual, you gave me some laughs too – I love the irony of only being able to join by internet and the lack of decent directions to find the agreed starting point. Thanks too for the reminder of a stunning poem. Happy adventuring my friend! Sometimes getting ‘lost’ is the best way to find what you’re really made of…hugs, Harula xxx

    • Oh Harula, if getting lost is finding out what I’m made of, I’m afraid I’m full of shivering nerves and deep dark fears. You know those nightmares we wake up from when we’re running around looking for something familiar, and can’t find it until thank goodness we jump out of the dream? That’s me sometimes when I’m lost. But you’re probably right – finding our way (and not panicking) probably builds character and makes us stronger.

  9. This is the second time I’ve read this. You spoke to my woods-lovin’ heart, Pam! It is so easy to get lost. Without a compass I would have been in the Old Witch’s stove by now after all these years. On an interesting spiritual note, I read a book about a woman who was enlightened or woke up to her true nature. After she “woke up” she couldn’t get lost anymore! Wow, what a mind-blowing thought, huh?

    • Well, I’ve read your ‘comment’ THREE times and am still marveling at your insights. First of all, will you come here to NE and teach me how to read a compass? Second, how do we find our true nature? Does it find us, or do we just have to get lost to find it? :-0

  10. I got your latest blog!! You were brave to do this alone but leaving the tissue was absolutely genius!!! The group had better give you more “direction” next time.

  11. I just moved from Denver to a small town in Maine. I have to say navigating here is much harder than it ever was in the (relatively) big city. I’m always amazed when I ride with someone who knows their way around and they wind their way around town on these roads that all look exactly the same (lined by rows and rows of trees). Maybe I need a GPS, or at least some tissue?

    • I highly recommend GPS AND tissue. Yes, I used to navigate San Francisco with no problem, but the paths and roads and woods of New England? Impossible. And those who live here (and most have lived here forever) don’t know the name of any street…it’s just, you know, turn left at the fork. I look forward to hearing about your adventures in Maine. Good luck!

      • Thanks!

        I’m not eve sure if all the streets here have names, and then when they do, they make no sense: Camden street is in Rockland and Rockland street is in Camden, and then all three town (Camden, Rockland and Rockport) all have a mechanic street. It’s like they’re purposely messing with the visitors 🙂

  12. “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.”
    – John Muir

    Living a few miles from John Muir’s house and lands, I’m amazed that he felt the need to trek to the Sierras to seek the splendor in those magical mountains. I’ve spent considerable time in both places and while the granite expanse of the upper Sierras recharges my spiritual being, the excitement of nearly walking on a rattlesnake sunning on fall leaves in the East Bay hills while hiking with my dog fills me with such a breathlessness that’s as hard to describe as the snake itself. A walk in the woods is to me periods of repetitious labor interspersed by periods of natural awe.

    • Thank you for that perfect John Muir quote, Chuck. He (and you) are so right. We need the exertion – the labor – in the woods to experience the awe in nature (and perhaps, to discover ourselves?) .

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