It would be hard to know its age for sure. Knowing the history of this forest, possibly close to a century. But there it was in my headlamp’s beam—an old roadway, barely identifiable, with ancient trees lining what had once been more recognizable edges.
At places, trees had fallen across this once-road, blocking off sections. Here, patches of poison ivy grew, defending against would-be travelers or reclaiming its part in the wood’s return to something wilder? Hard to know, but certainly it was now something more primitive. Something more pristine.
Several steps more as the remnants—little more than a suggestion, really—of an old stone fence became highlighted in my artificial light.
Did this shadow of a road once have a name? Or was it simply the way to the back forty, on a failed hilltop farm? Did it matter? Those who once knew were likely little more than memory now in this world, only silently watching the joy of my discovery.
To think, having first known this forest more than forty years beforehand, with our hounds always treeing either to the north or south, but never leading across this place.
But then, Painted Post reveals what it wants to reveal, and then, only when it wishes to do so.
Something stirred to the north, and Seth entered my headlight’s umbra. Earlier, he’d waited for me, ensuring I took a shunt that went around a sharp drop-off on the trail we were following. A downturn so steep, the previous winter’s snow had shown even the sure-footed deer avoided that place. He is a good hound, if a little over-protective.
“Interesting place, huh?”
The ebony cur at first followed my gaze, and then looked back, cocking his head puppy-like.
“Right. We’re here to find a raccoon and not discuss an old, forgotten road. Well, let’s have at it then.”
We walked on, leaving this place to the past, taking only the gratitude of something discovered in its proper time.
And yes, we found a raccoon, too.*
It was a good night.
*It’s only training season in NY now. No raccoon were harmed in the making of this memory. Happy Labor Day!