My friend Lauren invited a bunch of us out to join a group of trail running volunteers for a different kind of dirt mileage tonight. Instead of running and hiking, we’d be digging ditches and cleaning up drainage areas to keep water from collecting after rains.
For my friend, trail work is relaxing and enjoyable. For me, I think of it as a sort of giving back, not quite the dues I pay for the right to enjoy these spaces – because everybody pays that already in the form of taxes.
To me, the work felt like a new way to get closer to the land, to understand the thinking behind trail building and upkeep, to feel the effort of it too.
As we were leaving, a runner stopped to ask about what we’d done and thanked us for our work, which felt good.
When I was a tweenager my mother used to tell me ‘scared straight’ stories of bad girls who wound up in ‘the gutter’ because they didn’t act right and refused to exercise good judgment.
What a full-circle moment: tonight I got to build some gutters and cleaned up a few too. It was a very good decision. granted, my mother wouldn’t understand why I’d volunteer for something like this, but because it’s me, she wouldn’t be surprised. I even think she’d approve.