Grandma hiked with a full suite of trailblazing supplies well into her 80s – clippers, ribbons, just in case... just in case the trail was overgrown, in case she discovered another route to a view, another path down the mountain. When I was around 5 years old, she pulled me into the woods behind Guestwick, handing over an extra pair of clippers to work alongside her. “There’s a spring back here somewhere, we need to bushwhack to find it.” And so we went, clipping along, placing ribbons as we progressed, slowly blazing a trail to the spring and to a neighboring property as Grandma identified birdcalls and pointed out various plants along the way. When we arrived at the spring, we scooped the clear water with a cut plastic milk jug, passing it between us and gulped.
“Isn’t this water more pure than anything you’ve tasted? Isn’t bushwhacking more exciting than following a trail?” And it was.
Around that time, I took to catching frogs, turning over rocks in search of bugs and salamanders, stocking ‘edible’ seeds in hand-built forts in the woods behind our house, and dreamed of becoming a naturalist, an explorer, a survivalist, joining the ranks of Rachel Carson, Tom Brown Jr. Edward Abbey, and Grandma.