If one ventures out into the wintry north, you can see the shores of Sleeping Bear Dunes painted white. Wearing ice cleats to have a sturdy pace, we made our way to the Lake Michigan Overlook to view them in January.
One morning in Kyoto, I set out to explore the famous torii of Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine. I woke at 5am and put my body on auto pilot, following my phone’s directions to the nearest station that headed there. Few people stood on the platform as the melodic chimes signaling a train approaching rang out. I boarded and sat alone on a bench as I watched the skyline of the city fly by in the morning light. Blocks of cream and blue blurred by as my gaze lost focus in my sleepy mood.
I traveled north in New Zealand to see the giant Kauri trees that grace the Waipoua Forest there. They are the oldest and largest trees in the country, some aging over 2,000 years. Being the tree lover that I am, the Kauri Walk was one of my favorite walks during my time here.
A few weeks ago, I explored Rawhiti Cave in New Zealand. The hike was an easy level which equates to a difficult 40 minute uphill trek that had me dripping with sweat and out of breath. I’ve come to the conclusion that no treks are easy in New Zealand. Gone are the flat fields and smooth rolling paths of Michigan, everything is uphill here. I had just reached the point where I wondered if I would ever make it, grumbling under my breath and then there it was. I saw it peaking through the trees, stalactites hanging and framed between green foliage.
Can you hear that? The sound of silence? Your breath barely even audible and not one noise from the outside world makes its way into your senses. Your chest constricts just a little as the walls and ceiling are mere inches from you and the quiet has left you with yourself. The world has been shut out and you must acknowledge this being you inhabit without any distractions of normal life.
There’s something about being up when the rest of the world is still asleep that makes me feel at home even in a far away land. It’s a safe, comforting time when society is silent and the sounds of nature take over. The light of the early morning sun is at its most gentle and even the hottest of summer mornings are tolerable. Morning dew and mist work their way over fields and birds start to sing. At 5:45 I rise to hike the Anello della Rupe (Ring of the Rock) in the hilltop town of Orvieto, Italy.