Friday, June 12, 2009

A Walk With The Kids

I've walked these trails in all sorts of conditions and for all sorts of reasons. I have strolled leisurely passing the time and found pleasant surprises and had lovely chats and paused to observe details of flora and fauna. I have pounded down them with a destination in sight or tramped them in anger or hiked briskly in training for some wilderness adventure. In one way these trails irritate and aggravate me because they are often ill-maintained, infested with non-native invasive plants and crusted with disgusting litter. Yet, they present a far better place to walk than a house- and car-lined sidewalk and a far safer place to run or bike than a car- and truck-inhabited street. In various places across the country, they are shared by horseback riders or even all terrain vehicles, depending in some cases on what groups volunteer to maintain them. It took courage and foresight by those who initially lead the movements to change these old railroad beds to trails as they were abandoned by the rail companies. But now, these trails link up to each other to allow long hikes or rides for serious recreation or use by bicycling commuters. They allow for experiences in the green world that surely must lead us to a greater appreciation of and desire to protect and preserve the natural aspects of our planet. Some saw them as merely recreational trails, but they serve a deeper need for green and relative quiet, for a world that changes with the seasons and offers glimpses of the cyclic nature of nature. These trails are far greater than the sum of what any one of their founders and champions saw in them, and for that, we are all richer.

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