Since the returning from New Years, a nice, blissfully slow day of relaxation, I've been working like crazy. Not only have I had quite a bit of work, but I've also been working quickly on things. Last weekend, I worked straight through the weekend like they were just normal workdays and I've had several 10-12 hour workdays sprinkled throughout. It's good to be busy, but it's definitely less than ideal, and I've been tired, stressed out, and a little cranky. This weekend, my wife ordered me to get out and ride a bike or take a walk. I of course wasn't going to argue with that.
Initially, I wanted to get out on a bike. My two bikes hang on a wall in full view of my work desk and taunt me during the work week. I've been excited to get out and cover some ground. But because I've been going so fast on work-related things for the past couple weeks, I really just wanted to slow down a bit, and a hike just sounded right. I have a growing interest in biking. It's a great tool for helping me get out and explore, and I love to methodically climb hills. And I of course love zooming down hills. Bikes are fun, but I'll always be a hiker first. There is something about the motion of walking, the simplicity, and the inherent slowness of it that I sometimes need.
The Noble Canyon trail is one of my favorites, the major downside of this trail is that it's popular with mountain bikers. You can drive to the top of the trail, climb on a bike, and only have to pedal a few times to make it to the other trailhead, which is what many, many people do. It's kind of a cheap thrill.
Because of this, there is generally a mountain bike coming down the hill every ten minutes or so causing me to lose the rhythm of walking, or lose my train of thought. There were definitely a few times where I could feel a ping of annoyance rise, which probably peaked when a mountain biker came flying down the trail blaring music that I'm assuming he thought the whole canyon wanted to hear. I think my annoyance was also there because there is an effort to allow mountain bikes in federally designated wilderness areas (which I wrote about here) and the thought of having all trails be like this would be quite devastating to many of us.
It was about this time that I noticed the ladybugs.
Millions of ladybugs. I noticed them first when a log off to the side of the trail was covered in red. The more I looked, the more I saw. I would walk for a while, and then another landscape was nearly covered in them. I would stand and watch, and could hear the sounds of this large mass rummaging through the leaf litter. I was fascinated.
They were all over the forest floor and formed large masses on tree trunks and plants. But even though they are bright red, they blended into the forest, and with the exception of a few places, fairly unnoticeable. I'd be surprised if any of the bikers that passed even noticed them. I probably wouldn't have had I been on my bike.
It was almost as if the universe was giving me a reward for slowing down and taking the time to be present. They were a secret between the universe and me, shared in plain sight.
I then made a point of noticing the details, to walk slowly in places, and take in everything I could. Interesting patterns created by plants, subtle hues, and the blissful early evening light that filters through the trees.