Hiking occupies an important part of my life.
I use hikes, and, to a lesser extent drives, to chill out from the stress of day to day life.
My best thinking happens on semi-remote trails. My greatest insights sometimes come while staring
out at fields of flowers from roadsides. I wish I could put words to these insights, but I am afraid the words might come out as "wow!".
I once took three nephews hiking in the Dinosaur Valley State Park, where the footprints of something-o-dons indent still the Paluxy River. I took us off the trail. We got lost. I've celebrated the day in poem and story.
One nephew, aged 7, ran astray of a cactus. His ankle and the cactus strayed together somehow.
Rather than being a convenient opuntia which might offer a single simple pierce, the cactus was a chollo-like thing that inflicted the life of a thousand tiny needles. He showed his backbone by not crying, as we picked out spine upon spine, all insidious, chigger-like things.
For years, "no more hiking with Uncle Bob" became a stock joke among nephews of mine. The joke expired, as all such topical matters do. Some nephews and nieces never really interrupted the hiking regime, while others trod more warily.
I'm grateful to take more hikes with relatives these days. Yet I still find somewhat charming image as well as disquieting the notion of cutting shortcuts around the trail, through head-high cedar trees, with cactus, waiting to be kicked, buried in the sand.I come back to this in memory. It's a metaphor for me, of sorts.