It’s good to marvel at the little things some times.
One of those small things that never fail to make us wonder: the collections of remnant walking sticks.
We find them everywhere, usually after a weekend, or a busy week day. Birch, maple, oak. In multiple sizes. Two foot sticks for the pint-size hikers, and taller walking sticks for the more mature visitor.
They collect in front of the welcome sign. They lean up against the side of the Visitor Center, and of the Harwood Barn. Even random tree trunks are decorated with them. Sometimes there is even a stash in or outside of the outhouse. Gosh knows, some probably have been hucked down into that murky hole (but, I won’t be looking there).
Tom and Kathryn usually just shake their heads, “Why do they leave them here?” But they say it with a smile.
Most of the time, we just toss the sticks back into the woods…probably to be discovered again at a later date.
I like to think that the hiking stick repositories are something more. That each stick was left with good intentions by the people that enjoyed spending an hour, or a weekend, exploring Merck Forest.
Those remnant walking sticks are badges of time well-spent. They are small tokens anonymously conferred from one visitor to the next; an invitation, saying, “Here, go explore. It’s beautiful out there.”