Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Walk in the Park

"The resting place of the mind is the heart. The only thing the mind hears all day
is clanging bells and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The
only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart.
That's where you need to go."
From eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I try every day to take Stella for a walk in the park. I do this because walking helps her orthopedic medical condition and because although she does not ask, she loves this time and she has had too little of it in her tough life before us. Most days we complete the mile and a quarter that circles the park area. Our routine is predictable even though the weather is not. I often complain I do not have time for this walk, but whenever I do it--which is 4 or 5 times a week, my knots loosen.

The park in literally in our back yard. We walk out our back gate and there we are. I let Stella stay off-leash while we pass the park administration building and walk along the back side of the first little lake.

We never encounter anyone else until we pass a clearing and hit the main road, where the ranger station is. So for these few minutes we could just as well be in paradise. Once I saw a magestic crane and today I saw these azaleas and rhododendrons. I take all of this in but I am also introspective and sometimes sad when I make this walk. I tend to think not about being lonely but being alone. Nature does that to me--I recognize my place in the world and sometimes I feel very small and lost. But not always. Other times I am contently connected and I feel nothing but great hope and anticipation. I mention this because I am convinced most of us experience this duality: sometimes we're fine, and other times we're not, and our circumstance and situation may or may not play a role in that.

We cross the road into the official park. This little hill you see is not always so little (for me) walking down it or up it. I'm aware I've had back surgery as I tighten my stomach muscles and try to make it look easy. Stella breezes through it. She knows she is going to get her full walk at this point, and she is thrilled.

This is a model park. It has seluded picnic areas, many along a brook; a silly water park that 4 and 5 years old giggle non-stop over; a kiddie train with caboose that circles the park and toots its horn generously; the smallest zoo with chickens and sheep and 2 deer and birds I have yet to visit; pedal boats for use in the smallest lake; an open air chapel on the second lake that anybody can use; free firewood and pushcarts for families to set up their camps and picnics; a beautiful little foot path that follows a brook with many ducks and once a swan.

I know I am very lucky to have this park in my back yard. It was not a factor when we impulsively made an offer on the house we live in. When I walk out the door with Stella, I carry my cell phone and either my moleskine or my camera, never both. I rarely walk quickly--my style in general is to look around and that's what I do. I stop at benches along the way and write or doodle, I call Ces or Jessica or sometimes I return a call or two from my envelope to-do list.

And I think. And feel. Often I talk outloud to myself. A passer-by would think I was chatting with Stella, and sometimes I use her as the sounding board for my words, but I am singularly thinking and feeling. I am an aspiring writer--I believe I will be successful at it--I have a precious family and wonderful friends; I am currently not obliged to earn money as I create my transition to the writing life. I am safe and secure and I know it.

So I can't tell you why I can be brought to tears when I look at these towering trees, including this sweet sanctuary tucked among them, or why I am so aware that sometimes I am feeling good and sometimes I'm not. The truth is I want my life to flow--to move from one moment to another in seamless acceptance. I achieve that about a third of the time.

I talk to this tree. I think you perhaps can see why: the tree kind of talks back.

This is just the new growth of a pine tree. All is well in that world.

And this is the little lake where you can rent a pedal boat and pretend you are peacefully floating up or down stream. I sit along this lake often when I write. I look across to the chapel where today, in the rain, a wedding is taking place. I'm a sap for beginnings: I can easily visualize when most important events have occurred in my life, and I recall and savor them as each season passes.

These photos don't show it, but Stella and I encountered quite a downpour. We were both soaked. (I didn't care. ) JB called my cell and asked if I wanted a ride home. Not even. Instead she had towels at the back door ready for both of us.

To keep dry, I sat in this little alcove for quite a while and talked to Ces. I rarely enjoy long stints on the phone, but she is the exception. Outside of cyberspace, she is as special and interesting as her blog.

And then Stella and I headed back the way we came, until we found ourselves looking at the back yard.

I look at the Magic Cottage and the hammock and the plants I added yesterday. Because of that my back hurts plus I am surprised I have not yet earned $ from writing and I have all this weight to lose and .....I will myself to stop this negative tap dance I do. I think about the people I love and the blessings I have. I can't control my periodic confusion--it's there for sure, and I think it's important--but for now I walk through the back door to that waiting blue towel and I say "Thank you".


  1. Thank you for letting me take a walk with you and Stella. I loved it.

    You are indeed lucky to have that park near your home. The last time I was in a park and walking by myself was three years ago when I was pregnant with Faith. I was in Penang, Malaysia, at the botanical garden and we were doing an activity. I loved it anyway, despite the heat and my aching back. Sadly, there aren't any parks near where I live.

  2. I envy you somehow. Sounds marvelous: through the back gate and you are in a park. Love the idea. And walking the dog is very therapeutical. I always had dogs before I got married, I used to love walking the dog.

  3. Ah, yes, I forgot, thanks for you comment on my photo of the mine site. You are indeed right, I closed my aperture as much as possible to get a maximum depth of focus, so that I could see through the arch, getting the statue nice and sharp and the overlaying arches as well. It wasn't a sunny day, so I had to be really careful and concentrate to get it right.
    And you cannot see on the camera's monitor if you get this kind of thing right, you have to wait until you can look at the end result on your PC. So I'm indeed very happy with that photo, it turned out exactly as I wanted it.

  4. kj, this post speaks to me on the deepest level. thank you for bringing me with you on your walk in the woods.

    lots of love,

  5. What a beautiful journey KJ! Thank you for sharing. XXOO

  6. mench, you are very welcome. i had no idea i would have a park next door to where i live.

    pieterbie, first of all, happy belated birthday to annie. (annie is one of my favorite names. i would have named my second daughter that if i had had one).
    i agree that dogs are very special. and thank you for the explanation about the shot you took. i loved learning about that from you.

    jessie, lots of love to you back. i know you feel as i do on many levels...we are tender souls...!

    tammy, love to you too!

  7. There are just a few things better than walking one or more dogs - like the two of ours - in a beautiful scenery like you showed us. How nice when someone is waiting at home (hoorah for JB!) to hand you dry towels :-)

  8. What a lovely walk. The only thing lovelier would be to share it. I now remember the tree, I have forgotten about it. Youhave a great backyard. KJ, I cannot thank you enough for mentioning me dearly in your post. I am very lucky and blessed.

  9. Lovely walk - parks are such a wonderful resource. The first time I walked our dog in the park he spotted a squirrel to the side of us and nearly dislocated my shoulder lunging for it. Greyhounds have some powerful thigh muscles!

  10. It is the melancholy that catches you sometimes on your walks, right ?
    How cool that you and JB went to the show of Carla, that must have been wonderful.

  11. Girl, only you could tap dance in the rain! Beautiful walk through your life, your thoughts, and then always, home again. Where the best walks always begin.....

  12. wieneke, yes, i so appreciated the towels waiting for stella and me. i like that you picked up on that--it's little things like that that make life rich and warm.

    ces, whenever i take this walk i look forward to the next time we will take it together. :)

    cs, do you have a greyhound? i know and love this breed.

    hildegarde, you are so incredibly wise. your words hit me very deeply--yes, it is the melancholy. i didn't know that's what it is until i read your comment.

    carla's show was quite a treat. i was so glad that jb and i showed up to surprise her.

    singleton, i appreciate and love your comments. i'm very glad we have connected.

  13. Thank you for the walk in your park - it was a great pleasure!

  14. Beautiful photos, KJ.
    And there is nothing wrong with talking to yourself. But watch out you don't start arguing...;o)

  15. This is beautiful, KJ! I agree with Menchie -- it was like walking along with you and bella Stella. And I look forward to hearing of my kids' adventures at that park when we're in Noho next. Isn't it amazing how as soon as we start walking those stresses of the day fade. Lovely photos, my friend!

  16. Your magical path is almost Tolkienesque. Sweet dreams are made of these strolls with Stella.

    You might as well have a chat with the person in your head because they spend their entire life with you.
    You are 'Parkin' up the RIGHT tree!

  17. Thanks so much for your lovely compliments! :) Your cottage inspires me. I will have to paint my cottage and put on stars too! How lucky you are to have such a beautiful space by your house to walk in. I love the pics of all the trees and nature. Give Stella a big lick for me.

  18. Oh wow, what a beautiful, beautiful area you live in KJ. I should do the same with the area I live in. Not nearly as beautiful as yours though..:o)

  19. thankyou for taking me on your walk with you... I could see it.. and feel it.. Something about the old wiseness of trees and sunshine filtering through, combined with the sweet whisper of leaves, brings tears to my own eyes. You are not alone...

    Your blog Rocks!

  20. I don't have custody of the greyhound, but I do stop by to visit now and again.

  21. Why, thankyou, ma'am, for sharing that stroll with me.Too wet here this afternoon for a walk so the peep over your fence was a great lift.