If You Come To A Fork In The Trail, Take It!


If You Come To A Fork In The Trail, Take It!

Westering scimitars of gentle sunlight stabbed earthward at an angle approximating that of the earth’s orbital inclination. The soft evening air was redolent of insect breath, willow spice, and cattail flour.

Aspen and cottonwood leaves, illumined gold-green, shimmered kaleidoscopic in the Edenic breeze exhaled by the day’s last breath.

The mud was beautiful.

The Chosen Fork Missed

My wife and I had come to this place due to an unseen and not preferred fork in our road. We were returning from Taos, New Mexico and had planned to spend the afternoon hiking to one of the most breathtaking places on earth. (See this link for photos.)

We followed the High Road to Taos south through Vadito, Peñasco and Chamisal.

Somewhere along the way, we missed our obscure dirt road turn-off and ended up too far south. We backtracked and attempted a randomly chosen dirt road that sort of looked right.

It wasn’t.

Having forgotten our trusty ink-and-paper road atlas, and with no cell service, we were unable to find the correct road.


We decided on a fall back plan of a short hike at some Nature Conservancy property outside of Santa Fe.

The Fork Taken

We had been to this riparian gem tucked away at the end of Upper Canyon Road a few years ago, and remembered it fondly as a green respite from traffic and sirens.

Along the trail, which meanders beside a  small creek and swampy shoreline, we saw this sign:


It seems to aptly express the theme of that day, and perhaps to be a good life motto.

We make decisions, the outcomes are not always what we expected or hoped, but the fork has been taken, and sometimes we must simply enjoy the mud!


Even when the fork taken is not the originally preferred route, options remain. During our short, extremely pleasant stroll, we consistently chose the muddy routes. 

They brought us closer to the water, a commodity in short supply here in the sunburned Southwest.

The light was perfect.



The birds sent rills of mellifluous melody to mingle with the dulcet tones of silvery water flowing. Red winged blackbirds flitted about celebrating spring. The lilacs in full-mauved display buffed to sweetness the scent of the afternoon air.

It was a perfect golden hour, a glimpse of how the trail not chosen can nonetheless be grasped, appreciated, and wondered at.

Life is too marvelous, fleeting, and rich to squander it wishing for what is not.




We watched a beaver swimming across a pond, the ripples of his passage lapping in perfect symmetry through the sun-coppered surface.

Spiders scuttled near the water’s edge. A leopard frog lept, hind legs frenzy-extended, to plop into the green depths. The sonorous croaking of bullfrogs growled from the cattails.

Clouds, haloed by that glorious light, were galleons bringing gold from far shores.




Bethany held a daisy, and as her hair moved in the soft, soft breeze, I knew that we would be OK.




Life can be what we make of it, not what it makes of us. The trails we follow, the forks they take, almost all lead to some spot of heart-soothing beauty.

We just need the eyes to see it and the soul to appreciate it.

Find your mud!



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