Repetition Made New

Leah Rule

A road less traveled.
A road less traveled.

When I walked in the city, I’d always take one of the same routes, short, medium, or long, timed to the opening in my schedule. Past the sculpture park and convenience store, houses packed in rows and down alleys where I could look in peoples’ back yards – better insight of the people inside, I imagined. The dogs pulled ahead of me on short leashes. Watching out for cars, breathing in the thick fumes of a well-traveled road, I would often get lost in thought, and have to repeat on my iPod the story I had been listening to.

Now I walk across the pasture and into the woods. Always one of the same routes. The repetition is calming, and seeing which new tree has fallen, or what animal tracks have appeared is only possible upon repeated views. I make large circles, figure eights, whatever I need to do to make the distance without leaving our property. At my side or running in circles around me are my dogs, untethered and free. Tracking down the smells of their brethren and protecting me should a bear, a raccoon, a deer, or any number of animals try to approach. We all breathe and exhale nothing more than what is fresh. The barn cat stalks us from behind.

Winter arrives and I am challenged. My clunky boots break through the thin layer of ice, sinking into the snow, forcing the ice out of the way with each up step. My thighs burn and I curse the lack of a worn-in trail, hop in the truck and make a path with the wheels not quite wide enough. I am forced to walk foot in front of foot like a sobriety test. I start with scarves and hats, mittens and layers that slowly get pulled off as I sweat in the cold winter air. 

A friend loans me some snowshoes and I learn what our ancestors had discovered some 4,000 years ago. I float with ease across the snow, leaving a wake of large duck foot impressions behind me. I am Queen of the Tundra, conquering nature with every step. I still wear my iPod and listen to the same stories. And although there are similarities, ear phones, dogs, and repeated paths, mostly it is all new. Every day there is something new.