Thursday, June 22, 2006

Running to the Sun

Well, another year passes without making it to Stonehenge for the summer solstice. I did actually visit that ancient site a few years ago, so some progress has been made. That was in November, 2003 so the public was kept some distance from the stones. I’d love to be there for the solstice, the one day when common people are permitted to approach. What primeval pulsing they must feel, watching the sun rise along the path marked by those ancient rocks and dancing barefoot with the Pagans.

Yesterday was the longest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere with summer arriving at 8:26 AM. I wanted to celebrate this special moment in the solar system and I thought it would be fitting to watch the first sunset of summer from atop Moose Hill. At breakfast, I checked the paper to learn that sunset was at 8:15. I hurried through a busy day, hoping to have enough time to hike to the top of the hill and find a spot with a clear view of the western horizon.

My plan was to climb to the summit where an old fire watchtower is located. I hadn’t been there in several years and I didn’t remember any great views since the hilltop is heavily wooded, but time was limited and the tower is only a short hike from the road and, since it’s on the actual summit of Moose Hill (Elev. 534’), it seemed appropriate for this new adventure of observation and imagination I’m exploring.

Luck and help sometimes arrive unexpectedly. Our son asked if he could tag along on my climb to the sun and that turned out to be, in more ways than one, a good thing. Home from college for the summer, David has recently taken a surprising level of interest in my cycling and hiking activities. I’m sure he’ll get over it, but I’ll cherish it while it lasts. This was a big day for David. We had just returned from a car dealer where he placed a deposit on his first truck. He was excited as any young man would be upon passing that milestone, and I was happy for him.

Time being short, we drove to a parking lot at the top of Moose Hill Parkway and headed into the woods on foot. My fears were soon confirmed and there was no view from the top of the hill and a fence prevents climbing the tower itself.

With only 20 minutes to sunset, I was ready to explore the immediate area, looking for a spot to get a peek at the sun through the trees and, failing that, chalk one up for learning experiences. David said he thought he knew the way to some open ledges where the view to the south was unobstructed. I had been there once before, that time with the guidance of our daughter, but it had been a couple of years and with darkness approaching there was little room for error. Dave said that if we move it, we can make it.

As parents with young children, we get into the habit of thinking our kids need pampering and protection. We get into the routine of planning around the limitations created when young ones are with us. Well, kids grow up, and eventually get stronger than us. We have to look at them in new ways. Sometimes it takes effort to understand that we have been eclipsed by the power and beauty of their youth and what they now need is not coddling but the kind of encouragement and support that can allow them to go beyond us.

Well, I’m happy to report that in at least one respect, I have not yet been eclipsed. Once the decision was made to go for the ledges, we took off. A fast hike soon turned into a jog. A jog turned into the run. I can still run at least as fast as my young companion, but it was deeply satisfying to know we were now running as equals.

The trail was fairly flat and smooth for much of the way and it felt great to be flying through the woods on this warm evening, the sweat a reminder that the solstice we were celebrating was that of the summer. Maybe it was the natural feel of the trail as compared to the hard roads I usually run, but my stride felt smooth and strong. More importantly, I was running with a new confidence, knowing that the child behind me could keep up because he was now a man.

We made it to the bluff with 10 minutes to spare. The views are mostly to the south and in the distance we could see - for the football fans out there – the monstrosity that is Gillette Stadium, home of the sometimes-world champion New England Patriots. A little exploration took us to a rocky ledge that allowed us to see off to the west just enough to see the sun setting between some eastern red cedars that cling bravely to the rocks. The wood thrush provided his musical accompaniment for our modest celestial celebration.

We snapped a few photos, enjoyed the scenery for a few more minutes as the sun slipped below the horizon, and then headed back onto the trail to race the deepening darkness back to the road. When we emerged from the woods into some open old fields we were greeted by the twinkling of fireflies. They seemed to be welcoming us with flashes of joy for a new season for the year and a new season in the life of a young man.

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3 Comments:

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Endment said...

Seems like more words are out of place - wonderful post

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger roger said...

nice thoughts on parenthood and chidren growing up to surpass us.

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger robin andrea said...

It's amazing how far you and David traveled in that ten minute run. Beautiful post.

 

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