What’s in Your Back Yard?
I’ve had some interesting “lunch walk” partners over the years. When I started engineering at Kodak twenty-seven years ago, I found friends who shared my lust for the outdoors–who craved fresh breezes and blue sky–and who longed to break out of the gray enclave and burst into sunlight in the middle of the workday. We walked regularly, usually for three miles around the perimeter of the dozen buildings that sprawled in a massive complex.
I became attached to my walking buddies over the years. Friendships blossomed and our lives were enriched.
We passed through cool, glorious woods and broke into the sunlight to follow a dirt track flanked by robotic-looking power lines. Delighted to find such previously hidden treasures, we chatted and laughed our way through patches of Queen Anne’s Lace, purple loosestrife, buttercups, black-eyed Susans, and flowering milkweed. Heading in the direction we hoped was “home,” we stumbled upon a wide creek. The Treasure Hunter pointed out a blue heron taking flight.
In the distance, we heard the sounds of humanity. A metal door clanged shut in a company loading dock. Cars whooshed past on the road we’d originally braved and crossed. We were headed in the right direction.
After tramping through the “wild,” sweaty and tired and ready for the sandwiches that beckoned from our lunch bags at the plant, we needed to find a way to cross the creek. We began to inspect the shore, walking farther down the muddy stream. Although we hoped to find a crossing or a narrow neck of water, we were sunk. There was no way to cross.
Our pioneering spirits kicked into overdrive as we searched the nearby woods for dead limbs or tree trunks light enough to carry, but heavy enough to hold our weight. The Meanderer found a balancing pole. I threw the gathered logs across the creek, splattering my blue Dockers with fresh mud. Feeling deliriously adventurous, I ventured over the crossing.
I set one foot on a log. It sunk into the mud, moistening my walking sneakers. Using the balancing pole, I cat-walked across the creek until I came to the end of the man-made “bridge,” where the grassy water looked solid. I forged ahead, sinking up to my ankles in slime.
The tears rolled down our cheeks as we belly laughed, choking and guffawing until we thought we’d lose control. There are no restrooms in newly discovered nirvana. Doubled over and nearly hysterical, we finally stopped to assess the situation.
More logs seemed to solve the problem. I caught and positioned them so my friends could safely avoid the muck.
The Meanderer started across, using the balancing pole carefully. One step. Two.
She’s gonna make it!
Five, six, seven.
On the last step, she lost her balance and stepped into the gooey mess.
Another round of insane laughter. This time, the Treasure Hunter took a turn. Confident she could navigate this last hurdle, she took one step, lost her balance, and another sneaker was submerged in guck.
Laughing uncontrollably, we sloshed back to work, leaving trails of swampy scum in our wake. I tried to clean off my pants, but was only partially successful. The sneakers went into a plastic bag, and I had to stop on the way to the library event to buy a fresh pair of socks.
Now, we head for the trails at every opportunity. Yesterday, we brought a lunch and I read to them in a cool glen. And still, I remain astounded that this amazing oasis lay undiscovered, in our proverbial back yard, for the past quarter century.
What lies in your back yard? Are there trails, unexplored, that call to you? What waits on your bookshelf, or in your attic? Are there books, unread, that whisper your name, that could forever change the way you see life? And for you writers, are there stories untold, visions still clouded, destined to become your next work of art?
Search beyond your comfort zone. Cross that street, delve into those woods. Open that book. Discover what’s in your own back yard. Today.
Visit Aaron’s websites at http://www.legardemysteries.com/