It was a “Sound of Music” kind of hike today. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the breeze kept the bugs away. 

     I was right at home today as we ventured into the University of Maine’s forest. Brittany joined me. She is our youngest son, Patch’s girlfriend. We met in the New Balance Rec Center at 8:00am (Emily’s time). Thank you so much Brittany, you were two minutes early).     I teased her lastnight as we were making plans. She tends to run a tad behind schedule. So I requested it be Emily’s time not Brittany’s time. We headed inside to our locker to grab some necessities, like sneakers and a water bottle. 

     There was a set of scales directly across the dressing area from our locker. I usually avoid those dreadful slap in your face truth tellers. I know when I am a little more fluffy then I should be, but I was feeling positive. To my surprise I had lost two pounds. Woo Hoo!!! Just the encouragement I needed. The feed back I received last week when trying on clothes while shopping told a different story. So I didn’t care if the scales may have been off. I was sticking with that number. 

     After gathering what we needed and relishing in the lower scale reading, we hit the trail. We were limited on time due to an appointment she had later in the morning. No map again. I really need to get my maps in order. I’d been there before so I generally knew where we were going. 

     The University of Maine at Orono is a wonderful campus. I sang a different tune when I had to pay my college bill and now as we pay our sons tuition and fees, but it truly is a wonderful place. The woods out behind campus have several miles of hiking, biking and skiing trails. It is a great asset for the community to be able to escape into the wilderness without having to drive too far. 

     The terrain varies from a paved path to a dirt road to gravel trail beds to grassy foot paths. There is something for everyone’s liking. The first trail off the road was not to Brittany’s liking. It soon turned grassy and muddy after crossing a nice wooden foot bridge. She was sporting her new sneakers and I had my Gortex Cresta Hikers from LL Bean. I didn’t think anything of it. It reminded me when Bruce would join me for sections on the A.T. when I would cruise through the less then desirable sections and he would painstakingly navigate his way around water and muddy terrain. Respecting her shoes, we retreated and took a different route. 

     Our conversation was light and fun. Brittany is so much fun to be around. She laughs a lot, is good natured and just loves life. We both were commenting how everything was so green and how we love spring. It is a wonderful time of year when  winter finally gives way and the cycle begins all over again with the bursting of new life.

     We walked along enjoying new flowers. I stopped to smell what I thought was honey suckle. I love honey suckle. It’s so sweet. We eventually made our way to a school in Old Town. We hung a left and continued. We soon entered a field and there watching us as we passed was a small herd of deer. I saw 4 and Brittany saw 5. Their coats are so red this time of year. They gave us a white flag and bounded off to the far side of the field and continued to watch is as we strolled by. We counted 6 in all. It looked like two does and three yearlings.      We were running a little over budget on time. We wanted to be back by 9:30 or so. So we quickened our pace. We exited the field that followed the boundaries of the UMaine farm, crossed a dirt road and met back up with the original dirt road we started on. We didn’t have far to go.

Yes I like Butter. 

     We came upon a large garden snake. I love snakes, Brittany not so much. But this poor little guy had been hurt badly. His internal parts were squished out about mid-length, yet he was still alive. Brittany may not like snakes but she was feeling really compassionate for this reptile. “We can’t leave him like that. We have to put it out of his misery!” She exclaimed. 

     “I’m not going to kill it!” I rebutted. 

     “But we have to!” She said. 

     We discussed this poor serpent’s fate for a couple minutes. I finally “man-upped” to the situation and lifted the snake up using a twig I had been carrying as a back scratcher for bug bites. I carried him to the edge of the woods where I found a large, flat rock and a smaller, round one lying next to it. It was the perfect place to perform the deadly act of a mercy killing. The deed was done with one quick strike and a second just to be sure. I tossed him gently into the woods and Brittany said, “Good, now the circle of life can continue as some little bird finds it to feed her chicks.” I laughed inside. Just a second ago she was so sad for the snake. Now she was feeding it to the birds. 

     We made it back to the Rec Center by 9:45, our latest time we allowed. We had a nice 80 minute hike, enjoying spring and all its wonders. We even had time to spare for a cool down and stretch inside where we joined Patch who was finishing his workout. 

Happy Hiking. 

Emily M. Leonard

About Emily M. Leonard

I am a 50 year old Maine native and lover of the outdoors. Former Physical Education teacher and soccer coach. I am Married to the best husband ever and gave up teaching and coaching to raise our two wonderful sons. I have always enjoyed being outside and on the go.