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Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Sage Next Door: a Trip to Jersey and Beyond - Page 2

Written by Lisa DiFalco
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       When I tried to sign-in at the lodge upon arrival to Mohican, I first saw Ken. He is a cheerful senior who was talking too much to the smiling employee while I attempted to patiently wait behind him. He wasn’t the clean-cut type but more of the comfortable type with pokey salt and pepper hairs creating the beginnings of a beard. As I signed-in I didn’t think further about him but when we were to hike on our first full day I found out more. He is a naturalist and was offering to give a talk and walk about water and the area. I had already chosen another option. That day I started seeing him in the parking lot. On an overcast day with intermittent sprinkles, he had the trunk door wide open, exposing wood sticks. At times, he held them. As I would frequently walk through the lot and his van was close to my car, we got familiar. The superficial niceties were soon done with. I found out that his father was poor but would always help others. Ken had been active in the community and in politics, at times building homes and doing for others. He felt compelled to do for others and the greatest compliment he has ever received was when he was told that he was like his father. 

       Now remember the sticks? This ‘stickman’, as he calls himself, finds these forlorn friends scattered in the woods. He strips, carves and creates on these fortunate few. He sees the knotholes and defects and makes hiking sticks like the “Marsh Mojo Maker”, breathing new life into each old branch. What I didn’t notice until he of the twinkling eyes divulged it was that he had had an accident. He does this with one complete hand. The other had no fingers. We had a number of deep talks and on the last day he felt compelled to gift me one of his creations. As we hugged and he shook my hand with both of his, I just thought of his wonderful generous spirit, ever-young and willing to connect. When I walked off with his stick and a little of his DNA, I was really touched by who he is and his gentle, giving nature.

      The Appalachian Trail cuts through the Mohican Outdoor Center lands. The trail runs from Georgia to Maine; many serious and not so serious hikers transverse this long path. One such hiker ended up in our kitchen. Around 7pm, I was walking towards the kitchen and dining area in our lodge. I see a new young face. She was a bit bedraggled with blond shaggy hair and a large red hiking pack. She was a sturdy example of a relative novice who decided to be a solo hiker along this path. Jason, one of our members and a young Brooklynite, announced to all around that she, the new face, was a new member of our group. I was in the main area, overheard and thought “Huh?” as everyone had already signed in. 

       Jason had been exploring and had just happened upon this hiker waiting for friends to pick her up. She had been to the emergency room the night before and was waiting for a pick-up at Mohican from a friend that never arrived. She had been waiting for hours when she met Jason. He found out about her problem. Jason brought her into our lodge. This generous member offered up the spare bunk in the room. The hiker was able to recuperate a bit because of a moment when two strangers met and one helped another in need. She left the following day, hopefully refreshed and armed with antibiotics and general goodwill. I was once again taken by the support shown from one person to another. They were not friends or family but one had seen a way to help another selflessly and simply had done it. I just don’t see enough of that in the world, do you?

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Last modified on Wednesday, 31 December 2014

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