Calves and heels aching from stop and go traffic, my toes flex back to keep my sandals on and strain back and forth between the clutch, break and gas. Zak’s tension has eased into consent that we will be at least half an hour late for his appointment. What did we expect trying to get out of such a huge city and onto one of the busiest highways in North America during rush hour?
I was expecting to spend a long hour in a small waiting room with my book. Speeding my way to the other side of the city, my eyes caught a large brown sign marking the edge of a large section of tree and field. It was right in the middle of a big box store area. I dropped Zak off at his appointment and headed right back.
Unprepared, I was lacking the companionship of my camera. I had nothing between what I saw and me. I resolved not to regret any missed opportunities, and enjoy my walk. My companions were spires of tall grasses. Reach forward, grab on, arms fall behind, feel resistance and the grasses come along. I twirl each strand in my hand and remember making firecrackers in elementary school. My hand slides up to the thick seeded top, and then back down scattering all the seeds and leaving a long smooth blade.
A rabbit darts across the path, wakening me from my daze. I am not on the straight and smooth highway anymore. I settle into the scenery around me. Then there is a fork in the path. Now is the time to decide. I have 40 minutes. Do I want to walk out for 20 minutes and backtrack, or find my way from this map posted here and make a loop? I study the circle with paths radiating out and assume that it shouldn’t take me more than the time I have. I make a right turn down a thin dirt path overrun by grasses that slide against my leg, leaving a faint itchy feeling from the seedy heads.
The path starts curving right . . . I thought I was making a circle to the left. Just keep going, I tell myself. The sounds of traffic are still in the distance so I can’t stray too far. I begin to get anxious and wonder if I’ve started to go back in the direction of my car or not. I don’t want my walk to end too soon, but I don’t want to get lost either. I come out of the tree and bush and a large field opens up. This is not where I intended to be. What if it takes me too long to find my way back and Zak is waiting, stuck waiting for me?
Later in the evening, I began reading again from a work of my favourite adventurer and fellow pilgrim. I came across one line that I had copied many times and have journaled about before. After staying out too late exploring around the creek, she was enclosed in darkness and had to make her way home barely being able to see what was around her. She commented that, “If we are blinded by darkness, we are also blinded by light. When too much light falls on everything, a special terror results” (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, First Ed., 22).
I felt this terror. I hadn’t gone too far, or for too long, but my winding took me to a place and I forgot where I had come from and what direction I had taken. When I reached the field I was very confused. It was large and bright compared to the shaded paths that took me there. I walked my way through the golden field to a large posted map, but it wasn’t the large sign I saw upon entering the Conservation area. I studied it, but I did not feel oriented. I made my way along the road, but it did not seem like the road I drove along to get there.
After about 15 more minutes of walking in a direction that I wasn’t sure of I came across the trailhead that I started on, and knew my car wasn’t too far off. I realized that I had driven by the field earlier before I scouted out my parking spot. The field looked large and green when I drove by, nothing like the bright and golden field I saw coming out of the trees from the path.