Tiny Mysteries

The Autumnal Equinox was this past Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., and to mark its passing I made sure to get out as much as possible. This fall weather has been stunning–we couldn’t really ask for a better September. I was dreading this month, as it can be just as brutally hot as August, but this year we’ve been gifted with an unusually normal September: blue skies, cool breezes, warm sun. As there is so much upheaval in the world, I am embracing this gift with enthusiasm.

Now that the underbrush is thinning out, I’ve been going off trail and exploring more. The other day, I veered off a familiar route with a plan to explore an area that is still unknown to my “mental map.” I hopped on a deer trail, which are always reliable and walked into the unknown (at least for me). While I do appreciate the inner meditation that familiar paths offer, I am also amazed at how just changing your approach a fraction opens up an entirely new perspective.

I loved that the deer trail was so well worn. To see a route like this, not made by humans, is to look into the world of another creature. Where do they go? How do they travel? I followed this trail under a bridge and to an area bound by the (very dry) creek, a sheer cliff, and a major road beyond that. The sound of cars was not far off, yet I was in a protected gully that no one but the deer traveled through.

I found so many treasures, one of which was a huge raspberry patch, most likely started from long ago homesteads, that I noted for next year. Nestled in a bed of green was this chunk of rock that had clusters of crystals clinging to it. There was a stand of majestic pine trees with a soft bed of needles below it, and right next to them a stand of tulip trees, tall and straight, shooting into the sky.

But most special was a little area on the creek, fenced off by a tall scrim of stilt grass with just a deer trail passageway that beckoned me in. The trees were slight and young but densely sown. A carpet of dark glossy green vinca lined the ground. What was it about this spot that enchanted me so? Something about it spoke to me. It was obvious that at one point it was tended by humans, even though there were no foundations or other signs except for the vinca and nearby raspberry brambles, paired with my knowledge of the area’s history. I am drawn to these kind of spots–there are several that I know of–that somehow speak to me, or ask me to listen a little more closely. I am fascinated by these places and what they might be saying. I often think that there is much more to the world that we can see, and these spots prick up a sense in me that I don’t quite know what to think of.

I love these tiny mysteries. They don’t even have to be solved. In fact, sometimes solving a mystery means the mystery is over, which is a little sad. It’s the mystery itself, the fact of not knowing, that can be particularly satisfying to me. It means I can make up stories to answer it, and instead of one outcome, there are many.


  1. I agree, this weather has been SPECTACULAR. And I hear you with the deer trails! I did a bit of exploring with Dave this spring, as he took me to his ramp spots, and I had so much fun following their trails and noting where they slept/rested. It was wonderful & I adored it. Love your musings on the mysteries, Julia. ❤

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