Walking the labyrinth this evening was odd. I’ve been focusing on the tracks that are showing up in the labyrinth so much lately, that I was having trouble actually walking it. I’d found this little print yesterday. When I found it, I didn’t have time to walk the labyrinth, I’d just popped out there to look at it for a minute before I headed out for a full day, but as I was out there, this print just jumped out and said hello! I photographed it and posted it to Facebook and asked my tracking friends to help. Some folks offered up possibilities and my tracking mentors offered up questions.
I love that about them and I hate it sometimes. Sometimes I think I just want an answer, but the truth is that when I go on the hunt for knowledge myself, I absorb and retain the information far better. I will always be able to tell the call of a Pygmy Nuthatch now because I spent weeks observing them obsessively before I finally decided that’s what they were. And the quail tracks in the labyrinth, I’ll always know those as well, knobby little toes and all!
But I digress, I was writing about how the walk was odd today. It was odd because I was very carefully trying not to walk on any prints in the labyrinth. For the maiden spiral, that’s the whole thing. So I was precariously balancing my bare feet on the stones that mark the path. That is much easier said than done. Then I started walking in the spaces in between the stones, but as I was noticing the wafting scent of the Yerba Buena (another thing I’ll always be able to identify, because I went on a hunt and figured it out all on my own!), I realized that I was walking on it! So, back to balancing on the stones. Slowly, carefully, I’m walking along, looking at the tracks, realizing that I’m not going to be able to get more information about the above track because it’s now been covered with quail tracks and deer tracks. And then Ryder, our giant cat, wanders by, just past that tiny print. It was quite entertaining to see just how much larger his print was than that one. Also elucidating. It’s an animal smaller than the cat, by a fair amount!
Now I’m heading into the mother spiral, where the oak leaves start to cover the path (and hide acorns, which are quite painful to step on barefoot.) So, I speed up. And promptly step on an acorn!
I notice as I wind through it that I’m still being careful about where I walk because there are deer tracks and quail tracks in all the soft spots, and who knows what else might be hiding in the tracks, but the shadows are long because it’s evening, and so the tracks look cool, but very distorted.
As I enter the crone spiral, I breathe a sigh of relief as I can simply relax into the walk. Take in the beauty, without having to pay such close attention to the ground. I’m realizing that I was completely focused on my sight, so I have no idea about what was happening in the birdsong realm. Interesting. I hadn’t really paid attention to the fact that when I was focusing on the tracks I turned off the hearing. Now I want to practice holding on to both, vision and hearing.
The odd bit comes in as I think about how much energy it was taking to first, stay off the tracks, and second, pay close attention to them so that I could see and identify different things, but by the time I got to the Crone, where there was no chance that I would be able to see a print (although I have no doubt that my tracking mentors could see things in the redwood duff, I’m just not at that level yet), I completely stopped paying attention to the ground and that felt great. To just walk along, taking it whatever I wanted to take in without feeling like I had something to do. Big easy breaths as I walk. Standing in the center, sun streaming through the trees above me, creating long, long shadows.
Just breathing, grounding. I’m remembering on our last Women’s Tracking Day that Caitlin, our fearless leader, would say after a concentrated time of looking at the tracks, to lift our eyes, look out and just take in the beauty. It was a great reminder — focused attention is good, and respite from focused attention is also important. Breathe in. Breathe out. Inhale. Exhale. Focus. Relax.