Friday, July 9, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

As I was biking back from the pharmacy, I was possessed by a whim to see a small park on Eisenhower, which I hadn't visited in more than a year (I don't remember the park's name, just its location). I knew that there were some lovely nature trails, and a huge tree, just like the one Totoro lives under, but I didn't realize that they had paved some of the walkways. They used wooden planks, raised a few inches off the ground to prevent muddy shoes, and to avoid obstructing the flow of rainwater.

I set off down the path, though I didn't know where it went, determined to follow it until I came out somewhere. There were a few times when the bugs and the heat and the humidity almost made me turn back, but I stuck with it, knowing that I'd never rest if I had to keep wondering where it led.

In the process, I became deeply lost.

I don't mean that I couldn't find my way back. The fact that I'm writing this now is proof that I could. I mean that I completely lost my bearings, by sense of relative position within the city as a larger whole. And that felt awesome. i felt like an explorer searching through new lands, or a traveler on a journey to a strange country. It wasn't until I emerged from the woods that I saw a single living soul. The sense of isolation and mystery was delicious. It was like living out a childhood dream.

In the process of getting lost, I discovered several previously-unknown features of my immediate area, including a disc golf course; a basketball court; a very modern-looking playground; a footbridge over I-94; and a runoff pond that's home to ducks, geese, egrets, heron, and even a swan! I even picked some wild raspberries, sun-ripened and delicious, and ate them right there on the trail. They were better than any I could ever buy in a store, because I picked them myself, using my knowledge of local plants for practical reasons.

So the next time you see a path in the woods, and you don't know where it goes, go ahead and walk it. You just might have an adventure of your own.


  1. Go look at the line 'I felt like an explorer...'

    This is a charming bit of writing. Adventure is right! The park sounds a lot bigger than you thought it was...I almost wish for pictures.

    I particularly like the bit at 'In the process of getting lost...'

  2. I can show you where it is sometime. It's easy to miss if you don't already know where it is. The part that's visible from the road is tiny (barely 20 feet across), and the sign is unreadable at 30mph.