September 25, 2005

Let's Go Take a Hike

Well it’s late September and I really should...be taking a hike. So I set my cap a’jaunt, find the walking stick and set out for a pristine natural refuge called Darby Metro Park. I like that city parks call themselves metro parks. Got a better ring.

The air is fulsome with the scent of decaying leaves, the wind strong enough to help acorns thud at frequent intervals. Oak, the quality tree, produces acorns, the quality seed. Or is that vice-versa? Acorns look nothing like trashy maple seeds. Nay, these are heavy spheres, smooth and hard, with a design on top that looks as decorative as a company’s branding. At bottom is a small, sharp point which presumably stops them from rolling when they arrive on terra firma.

I stop at a lookout with a view of a long stretch of the river and a wide expanse of “Little House on the Prairie” prairie far below. A song arrives unbidden:
Down in the valley, valley so low
Hang your head over, hear the wind blow
Hear the wind blow, dear, hear the wind blow
Hang your head over, hear the wind blow.

Roses love sunshine, violets love dew
Angels in heaven know I love you
Know I love you, dear, know I love you
Angels in heaven, know I love you.
To the woods I went and as I looked out over the serene valley part of me wished to join the wagon trains and head for those uplands, with my wife and I ensconced in some far part of Darby Metro Park where the tourists never go. And we’d live off acorns. And that’s when I woke up.

You never know what you’ll find on the banks of the Darby. A snake, with surprising speed, avoids my step. A caterpillar makes his way across the path, snowy white with eight black dots along his back. He does the familiar sideways shuffle to locomote. Against the backdrop of green and brown there’s the thrilling purity of birch bark, so white and smooth, twin trees amid hundreds of dark-barked.

I hear a muffled stampede coming up behind me. A bison run? Horses? Perhaps children, except they make no sound, no squeals. I look behind and see a passel of half-dressed runners, all girls but for one lone guy. Like I said, you never know what you’ll see at Darby Creek...

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