The Long Way Home: In Words

Yesterday I went for a walk in the woods behind my house. It was a nice day, and I wanted a good stretch for my legs, so I went farther than I usually do. I forgot, though, that it’s harder to find my way at this time of year. I’m used to walking in the winter, when there are no leaves on the trees and more of the rocky landscape is visible. Snow on the ground also allows for easy backtracking. The woods in early autumn are better at concealing their secrets, and I got lost.

I wasn’t worried per se, but it was late afternoon, and the clouds overhead threatened rain. I knew that, if I just kept walking, I’d eventually come to a place that was familiar or I’d reach a road. But I also knew that when the light failed I would start to get scared. I didn’t even have my phone with me (stupid!), or a light, or anything else that would be useful, except my head and my feet.

So I walked and walked and I did eventually come to a place I recognized: the Abandoned Truck. The Abandoned Truck is near what I call Oil Can Swamp, which is, as you might guess, a marshy area where someone dumped a bunch of oil cans (people can be such jerks!). I don’t usually go there, because it’s depressing, but I knew exactly where I was. Given a map, I could have pinpointed my position on it. I was on the side of the woods opposite from my house. But, it had been years since the last time I was there, and I wasn’t sure which paths to take to get home. Ugh.

I was near a road, though, so I took it. The way home by road was less than direct, and the steady stream of speeding rush-hour traffic made the trek seem even longer. Main roads are convenient for driving but unpleasant for walking. They are also dangerous, as silently attested to by the dead raccoon and opossum I saw along the way. When we are driving, we don’t realize just how fast we are going compared to everything else, or the force with which we move the air, how our hurtling cars rock the world as they fly through it. From the pedestrian’s point of view, it is terrifying.

I was mindful of the traffic, though, and I made it home safely. I got quite a lot of exercise and fresh air along the way. And, because the story ends that way, I’m calling it a good walk.

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