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Week 18: Martha Maras

On Sunday morning I had plans to meet Martha Maras, my hiking companion for the 18th week of “A Year of Hikes: 52 Weeks, 52 Women, Same Trail” for an early morning hike.  Even though most mornings I spring out of bed, that was definitely not the case on Sunday.  Due to way too many hours spent in the garden on Friday, I was definitely not springing. I was more like easing out of bed…crawling might be a better descriptor. Luckily, I had been looking forward to spending time on the AT with Martha, which motivated me to get up and get my day started…sore back be damned! 

We set off under a beautiful sunny sky, with a slight chill from the night before still in the air.  Martha, who said her week revolves around getting in at least two hikes, routinely hikes with both neighborhood friends and fellow members of Girls Who Hikes, Maryland. She was more knowledgeable about the wildflowers that were growing along the trail that I and has a good eye for detail.  She pointed out a couple of flowers, including Jack-in-the-Pulpit, that I probably would have completely missed if it weren’t for her eagle eyes. Also, thanks to Martha, for the first time, I saw a May Apple in bloom.  Who knew?  I’ve been walking past these plants for weeks and didn’t even know that they flowered.  

As we hiked, we talked a lot about relationships: what makes them work, obstacles to communication and the importance of being a good listener.  We agreed that successful relationships, whether romantic, parental or friendships, all require honesty, patience and self-awareness. We even talked a bit about reincarnation and if it is possible to get things right in a future life.  As we chatted, I reminded myself of a lesson I’ve had to learn many times over: “It is impossible for those I love to learn from my mistakes.” It is important for me to remember that we all learn what we need to learn when, and only when, we are ready to learn. My adult children will greatly appreciate my renewed nugget of self-awareness!

We hiked down to the stream at Warner Hollow and along the way took photos of the rapidly “greening” woods. Is “greening” even a word? If it isn’t, it should be for it exactly captures the amazing change from one week to the next.  In fact, it seemed to me the woods were greener at the end of our hike than when we started!  I got some great shots of Martha by the lichen covered wall, down by the stream and of course, when, all by herself, she lifted a huge tree off the trail!   The selfies I took of the two of us weren’t so good but that’s how it goes when you have short arms!

On the way back, Martha and I bonded over our love of cooking.  Martha is a true gourmet and fixes 5-star quality meals and I’m more of a “gourmet wannabe”. She especially likes preparing Asian cuisine and told me she has perfected her Pad Thai.  Of course, I asked if she would share the recipe!  Martha is not only an amazing cook but is also amazingly thoughtful and kind.  She combines her love of cooking with her thoughtfulness and each week delivers a restaurant quality meal to a long-time friend who has ALS and takes meals to her 92-year-old father.

When we got back to our cars, Martha, kind as ever, offered to give me her Selfskie attachment. She says she wasn’t using it and thought I might find it helpful.  See, I told you she was thoughtful and kind!  Not only that, by the time I got home, she had texted me her Pad Thai recipe.  Thanks, Martha…I can’t wait to try both the Selfskie and the recipe!    

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