Winter Baby

the pathThey say that the long and winding road leads to your door.the woodsOr, should you be going the other way, which is generally the way to start a walk, walking out that door, say, on a fine evening between four and six, one step after another, the road goes ever on and on, across the river and into the trees, through the Pathfinder’s sea of prairies and Scheherazade’s ocean of stories, skirting along Highway 61, all the way to No. 7 Eccles St., Ithaka, and its rooted bed — a Penelope for your thoughts, Leopold — with a side path to the Lonely Mountain and its soft underbelly of Smaug, or, taking the wrong turn, bobbing upon a coffin of wood that’s all that left of the old world.
the shadowsSolvitur ambulando, said Augustine of Hippo; it is solved by walking. Meditation, exploration, transportation. You can do it by yourself, in public no less, or with someone, holding her hand, or with a group, one foot following the other. The Zapatistas say Caminando preguntamos, we walk asking questions.owlAnd when, in the Sufi legend, the thirty birds get to the end of their road, after much reluctance in starting out, and various adventures along the road, to find the fabled Simorgh — hoping this phoenix-like creature will lead them as their king — they find only their own reflections in the water, for si morgh merely means thirty birds in Persian. No path to wisdom leads to a king, though some may lead to a heart of gold.

John Gardner noted that there were only two basic story lines: you go on a trip, or somebody comes to visit. A life is a trip, even if you never stray far from home. But stray you should, far and wide, before…um, you know…Et in Arcadia ego

Dante begins Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, midway in the journey of our lives, by walking into the selva oscuro, the dark wood, that haunted European nightmare imported to the New World — O my America, my Newfoundland — along with metal axes enough to slay the beast. The particular woods illustrating this post are more silvery than dark, matching the midway silveriness of my hair on this, depending on how you count, my 50th birthday or the last of my 50th year on planet Earth.ÞingvellirThe long and winding road…

23 Responses to “Winter Baby”


  1. 1 vicki February 20, 2013 at 7:11 am

    happy birthday!

  2. 3 Mark Wilkinson February 20, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Happy Birthday Matthew! A pleasure to be walking the road on this earth at the same time as you. Though separated by an ocean I think we walk a similar path.

  3. 7 Karen February 20, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Happy birthday! It was my 50th birthday on 2/2. Makes you think and I dreaded it all year, but somehow it feels celebratory now.

  4. 9 alphonsegaston February 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    An Irish blessing! I love the bird legend–or, should we say, parable.

    • 10 mthew February 21, 2013 at 8:24 am

      Thank you!

      It’s usually called the Conference of the Birds, by Farid ud-Din Attar, not to be confused with the Parliament of Birds.

  5. 11 Elizabeth White February 20, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Happy Birthday, Matthew!

    Elizabeth

  6. 13 Paul Lamb February 21, 2013 at 6:22 am

    I’d follow you anywhere . . . as long as there is birthday cake at the end.

    Happy Birthday!

    • 14 mthew February 21, 2013 at 8:21 am

      And what a cake. While I usually make my own, in this case it’s from the chocolate layer cake from the Chocolate Room.

      Thank you, Paul.

  7. 15 mthew February 20, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Reblogged this on Backyard and Beyond and commented:

    Out of the archives endlessly walking:

  8. 16 Ellen February 20, 2016 at 8:28 am

    This is so wonderful. Thanks for reposting it. I love hiking and it is an activity so simple to do, but full of so many different experiences, depending not just on terrain, but where you are in your head. Or the company beside you. Happy Birthday!

  9. 18 Ruth Edebohls February 20, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Happy Birthday, Matthew! Having reached the age of 72, I can state that 50 is just the beginning. Thank you for your wonderful blogs. I look forward to them every day.

  10. 20 elwnyc February 20, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Happy Birthday, Matthew. This one is new for me, so I’m glad you reposted it.

  11. 22 Dawn February 27, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Happy birthday. I like your stream of consciousness.


  1. 1 1000 Urban Miles, Part I | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on November 18, 2013 at 8:13 am

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