My dog greets me at the door with a hiking boot in his mouth, the day is warm and the sun is shining. I change out of my skirt and into comfortable walking pants and put on my all terrain sandals. Ready? Oh yeah. We both are. We get there and he leaps out of the car, the truth is so do I. Leap. Out. I know these trails inside and out backwards and forwards, as we say “like the back of my hand”. The trail I call the Secret Trail, is being called Meg’s Trail at the Council of Park Friends. I wonder why? (facetious). At this time of year, I miss the long trek down the stairs and around the lake but I don’t even try it yet. I am sure it is flooded I look down from the high cliff and see water all around the edges deep into the trees. It has rained and rained. Evidence: I didn’t come here more than twice through the end March and part of April. The longest I have gone, by far, without coming here in over a year. There are many people at the park and I don’t let him off leash as I do in the winter when often my car is the only one there. Sometimes on the back side and near the steep places I will, but not for long, just long enough for him to make his way up. On the Cliff trail there is either a sloping curve or a rock climb. I let him choose which way he wants to go, as I often do, on these trails. He picks the rock climb. There is one spot he struggles with IF I am behind him. He lifts a shakey leg and looks back at me pathetically. Make your own way I tell him. Come on. If I am above him he hops right up, no problem. Funny thing. I have come to know the plants and look for the spot where the jack in the pulpit grows. I have come to spot the crevices filled with herb robert. The wood sorrel and violets that dot the landscape are old friends, and the spotted leaves of trout lily are like family. We wind in and around up and down trails until it is time to head for home. In just a short time, the thick belly of winter begins to go away, and the cobwebs in my brain are cleared each time I come to this place. It is a friend this park. Dear and special.