After some pretty frigid temps, there’s been a nice respite in the weather. It felt good to get out on the city park trails which wind along next to the river. Didn’t even wear a hat.
In the summer, the trails are pretty busy, but right now they’re basically deserted. It’s a little eerie.
Still, I was able to hear birds singing, and see them flitting among the brush. Spotted two squirrels practically cuddled up on a branch together. Ducks were cavorting in the river, splashing, and riding the current.
At one spot, the train tracks run across the trail. What do you know, a train came. I stood there close enough to feel the rumble under my feet.
As I crossed through the abandoned park expanse, I saw a man approaching. As he got nearer, I could see that he was carrying something in one hand, but kind of shielding it from view. It made me uncomfortable. As we passed, I looked back. I could clearly see that what he was carrying was a large wooden club.
I wondered if the city trails are more dangerous than I know. Or if this is just a man who is a little paranoid. Either way, I think carrying something like that actually does make the city trails more dangerous, and it serves to make one a little paranoid, too. Certainly bothered me.
That brief, uneventful encounter alters things. Regardless of my intentions, I realize I already feel less inclined to return to the trails for a run, despite the fact that I truly love the access to nature there. It makes me mad that on a perfectly pleasant day, people feel compelled to arm themselves to be out in it.
I am sad for our loss of community, for the distrust and fear with which everyone lives now. It is time to find our way back – to find connection and purpose and joy in our shared experience on this earth instead of the manufactured violence and separation that greedy capitalism fuels.
I believe it is possible, too, but it takes vision, intention, and personal effort to move to recover true and functional community. It won’t come from the top. It takes each one of us to make it happen. It takes courage, too, at the very least, to choose a different path than the one we’re shown and herded along.
The birds and the squirrels and the ducks – they’re on to something. Beautiful, peaceful coexistence within nature. Why wouldn’t we?