I spent a few months in Northern Michigan and the UP some years back. At one point I had set camp along a stretch of the Northwoods Trail somewhere near Mackinaw. A mile or two into a late summer walk, following the sepia ribbon unspooling through fern moss green and birch, I felt an odd giddiness rise up in me, then full on laughter. I’d been enjoying that state of being such spaces evoke- full absorption without need of filter. I hadn’t noticed on a cognizant level what I’d been observing on the sensory. I’d been gathering blazes. Loads of them. Each step another blaze, I became very much aware of the presence of some very enthusiastic trail keepers. Every other birch had been swatched with a thick sky blue streak of paint. On a path too narrow for a snowmobile, such frequency seemed ostentatious. However obscured the horizon, the way was obvious. Even imagining a landscape under snow couldn't account for these riches of orientation. A happy mind thus occupied turned the variations and metaphors around and inside out: “trailblazer,” “what in blue blazes,” “talk a blue streak,” and so on. I considered “blue” and blues. Finally the mind settled, resting on a joyful and defiant declaration, “I know where I’m going!”
I paused on a small bridge, dangling legs over a creek. Aware of movement I looked up into the open blue sky. A small brown bat had taken an interest in me. We considered the other. Sunlight illuminated the bones and veins of her wings. Fragility and strength indivisible.
On my way back to camp I chose a fallen tree in the midst of being reclaimed and sliced a blue blaze to carry along with me, a reminder that I do know where I’m going.