“Wearing a jacket would have been smart,” I think.
I’ve taken an extra day before we go to Toronto for a long weekend — the day after, too, because why not? — and Suzi has told me I have to get outside.
Which is why I’m sitting at a picnic table at the arboretum a couple miles from my house on a glorious late-October day, even with the gusty breezes making things a little cool in my T-shirt.
I’m watching everyone around me: a mother with a couple little kids on a blanket in the field in front of me, three woman walking behind me speaking a language I don’t understand, people sitting on benches, a little white dog — I swear there’s a factory for them in my town — galavanting about.
Another dog is excited to get off its leash. It rolls around before taking off toward one of the benches where a man is sitting. The woman the dog came with sits next to him — I assume they’re married.
Five more minutes … five more minutes.
Everyone seems to have found their place on a bench or walking the trail, so there aren’t many people around, so I think to get up and walk. But no … stay five more minutes. After all, I don’t have anywhere to be.
I hear a thump of some kind behind me. I turn around, and based on the dog running around and the women pointing from the parking lot, I assume the noise was the ball they had thrown for it to find.
They throw the ball again, and all of a sudden, the dog is trotting by my picnic table, ball in mouth. “What’s up?” I say as I give it a pet.
Five minutes has become eight. Time to go for a walk.
I see that a lot on Twitter and Instagram. I’ve always taken it to mean not just that there’s cool stuff up there, but as a reminder to take the time to notice the cool stuff that’s up there.
So I make sure to look up to enjoy the foliage and the totally blue sky. The only thing breaking it up is a single airplane; there’s not a cloud to be found.
I’ve come to realize that I’m lousy at relaxing. Not only do I often barrel through things without properly enjoying them, that barreling is often accompanied by thinking about what happens when it’s over.
Before I even leave, I think about what happens when I’m back.
But I’m going to take this slow. It’s a beautiful day. I don’t need to do anything.
I’m going to look up.
The arboretum is close, but we only go several times a year, mostly when we’re looking to break up our usual walking routine.
So I’m familiar, but not intimate, with the loop we go around when we’re there. Somehow, I break the loop, and wind up in the woods.
I’m not “lost,” in that I can’t find my way back, but I don’t know exactly where I am, either. It’s a trail, but more of a leaf-covered nature trail, and I’m not completely sure where it leads.
There are signs and markers on the trees pointing out where the trail is, so I follow them, but I feel like I’m getting farther away, deeper into the woods. The houses I see a few hundred yards away tell me I’m almost at the back of the property.
Even though I know I should be fine, a tinge of panic starts to set in. I turn around to retrace my steps.
I’m not looking up anymore. I’m looking for the way out.
Phew, OK. I know my way back.
As I walk behind a woman sitting on a bench writing in a notebook, I realize where I broke the loop, as I walked in front of her before going into the woods.
Basically, I turned right instead of left.
Now that I’m back on the right track, I can enjoy the scenery.
And I can look up again.
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