Houdek Dunes by Rory Price

Here’s a guest post from the Beechnut Review, the online literary magazine of Leland School.  Beechnut has been online since 1995, and in  December 2009 it switched formats to become an ongoing blog, with new stories on a regular basis.

The bees buzz quietly by the stairs, attracted to the scent of lady slippers. Sand is lightly dusted across each worn wooden step, making my running shoes slide as I jog. The leaves of the birch trees rustle in the slight afternoon breeze and a morning dove’s call fills the air. The trail is covered with twigs and fallen leaves, and the path descends sharply downhill. I run at an even pace, taking care not to trip on any hidden roots. The sun rays are filtering through the boughs of the trees, warming my shoulders.

It is the perfect summer day, and I am in the perfect place: Houdek Dunes hiking trail. The path opens up into a heavenly meadow. Knee-high ferns stretch into the distance for an acre, and the path is nearly invisible, almost completely covered by foliage. As I wind through the field, the tips of the ferns lightly graze my legs. After a steep incline, I have reached the sandy part of the trail. The temperature is noticeably higher here because of the lack of tree cover, and if I squint just right, I can pretend that I am in the middle of the Sahara. I sink into the dune, my pace becoming slow and laborious, and my shoes filling with sand. I crave a cool drink, but no such thing is available out here.

The looping trail leads me back to the shade of the forest, and I am grateful for the break from the hot sun. After rounding a sharp corner, I reach a tree that is easily as tall as a two-story building, and over one-hundred years old. Beneath its ancient limbs rests a smooth wooden bench, donated by some charitable soul. But there is no time to rest today: I bypass the welcoming bench, and continue on home.

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