Fresh Air, Fresh Look

by Marra Watson

Walking my beasts down by the river, just a little out of town, but feels like a world away, I enjoy this simple pleasure. I follow after them, on the overgrown, at times almost non-existent, trail, ducking under and climbing over tree limbs, seeking what’s beyond the next bend; I follow, follow, through a meadow, then a swamp, and now a forest. The days are short and the sun fades quickly, but the terrain seems endless. I can’t seem to make myself turn around; I keep telling myself, after the next bend. My dogs are not city dogs. They are trained, but unpredictable. They seem to require more room to roam and are unmanageable on leashes. I don’t feel like a city person. I think we are a good fit, them and I, a little wild.

The big one comes back to look for me every once in a while when I lag too far behind for his comfort. The smaller one, though still large by dog standards, runs ahead, out of sight, not returning unless called. I’m happy to not to have to worry about meeting any other people or animals on the trail; it is obvious we are the only ones who use it anymore. I bend some of the large thorny shoots back and snag them in the tangle of others, off the side of the trail, so that the walk back will be less tricky. Jack gets hung up in the thorns every once in a while, as he forges ahead, with his massive wooly malamute winter coat. Nova, sleeker and more agile, gets through with ease.

The day is now faded to a flat grey. The river seems stiller. There is no breeze. The air is crisp, but not cold, just perfectly comfortable for our brisk pace. My imagination goes wild in the peace and beauty of this serene solitary place. God is nearer here, I feel like He is anyway, though my rational mind tells me my head is just quieter and internal receivers less clogged and overstimulated. Either way, it is easier to feel and hear Him amidst the trees and the water, which though they make noises of their own, soothe rather than pull at my senses, add to me, rather than requiring anything from me.

I come upon a little pool on the side of the river, the mist is low and dense around the water, but the pool, like the river, is free of the mist. I see the ducks first and notice immediately that while idyllic, there’s something not right about the scene. A little out on the rocks that create the pool, I discover the ducks are wooden. There are at least seven of them, placed around the pond. A little cove of wooden ducks, a good distance from any real train, how surreal and intriguing. Nova has not figured it out yet and is stalking one. A little closer and she sees its unseeing eyes and unmoving body, and shys far away in her mistrust of all things fake.

I stray far from reality in my daily chores and responsibilities. I create my own little scene of wooden ducks and then pretend they’re real, out so far from what brings me closer to my Maker and myself, insulated by the immediate, my self-created, bubble, believing the things I have built are what is real, and are what needs my constant attention. But out here, perspective clears; I breathe and dream and have space for inspiration; out here, is where I get fed, rather than feed, someone or something else. And here I can see things for what they are, more clearly. The blurry lines are gone, the shades of grey are gone, clarity reins; the real stands out and fake too is obvious. Reality checked, I turn back with my dogs and my peace and My God who never leaves me, even when I cannot hear Him because of all the other things I’ve allowed in. I come out here to increase my capacity, space within, dump load what should have never been and remember what is and will always be true.

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About the author

Marra Watson is the wife of an amazing, though mountain obsessed, man she met in Antarctica and homeschools their two beautiful, fun, and creative boys. She writes non-fiction adventure, is an avid explorer and grew up chasing Jack Kerouac and the Beatniks long after they existed only in print. She is a lover of God and people, passionate about encouraging and equipping the saints for the work of the Kingdom. Marra has a writer’s group named Scribes, that meets bi-monthly in her home. She is an avid rock climber and owner of the local indoor climbing gym, Crux.  

The featured artwork is a photomontage created by Doreen Grace Kester with photography from Unsplash.