By Merisa Sherman
The mud oozes through my toes as I take another step along the soaked path. I can feel how slippery the soil has become, the ball of my foot sliding back a bit with each step. My heel wiggles somewhat as I place it down, the ground moving all beneath me. But still I let the mud squish through my toes.
After this much rain, the ground is soft enough that I can leave my sneakers and socks in the car and head out for a walk with my bare feet. While the leaves of autumn create a cushioning bed, I can feel the soil absorb the rocks as I step on them, smoothing out the way.
It’s not easy at first. My mind is trained to move differently with shoes on, the flat platform of my sneakers teetering on rocks. A bare foot doesn’t do that. It wraps around the rock, grabbing on to it like a hand. Gaining leverage, you fall easily into the next stride, one foot after the other. It flows, naturally, along the sides of the trail and you swing back and forth in time to the rhythm of the rocks.
In the darkest parts of the forest, you can still see water droplets left over from the week long Vermonsoon. The forest is drunk, so swollen with rainwater that it seems sluggish. The drooping branches, the sinking rocks. Plants so pummeled by the force of the rain that they lie on their sides, their flowers barely open, peeking lazily toward the sky. There is a sense of fullness, of a gluttonous feast come to fulfillment.
And so I walk slowly, content to match the energy of the forest. As the sun surprisingly continues, the birds begin to hesitantly begin their song. A chirp here, a few more there and suddenly the forest is awash in the pitter patter of birds with much to be done after the weather hiatus. I have missed their song.
Putting one foot in front of the other, I begin to lose myself in the forest. My body starts to move on its own, captured by the rhythm of the rock while my mind begins to wander. I start to sway as I walk, swinging from one said of the trail to the other, bouncing