Our Own Trails

I set off on the trails, alone. I wanted to make each loop, take them all in, mark my progress on the map. It took a little under an hour, just enough to be full and satisfied with my portion.

I went early enough to escape the summer heat, to pause overlooking the creek in a fleeting cool breeze. How lovely it is to be under the shade of tree branches, with nothing but the sound of gravel underfoot, moving forward.

My secret landmarks still stand, quietly—the giant tree with the enormous, ancient trunk; the long bench with the mysterious L.M.B quote; the lonely gazebo out in the tall grass; the angled red rocks near the creek’s shoreline. Maybe one day I’ll match them up in my mind with their corresponding trail letter and color, make them serve as a true indicator of my location.

I took time to explore, to get off the path. I wandered down near the pond in damp mud, then climbed down on both sides of the creek to walk the red-rocked banks. On one end, you can see the metal bridge in the distance, on the other, the stream winds away from the boundaries of its stony beach.

Instead I found the place full and brimming with summer—all green leaves and wildflowers in golden sunlight. It’s the most beautiful place in this city and I’m content to think it’s still a wild, hidden treasure.

On the climb up from the creek, tufts of dogwood cotton had collected along the outer edges of the trail, as if they’d been swept from side to side to clear the path. They’re the last remnants of spring, a season I missed entirely at Martin Nature Park. Instead I found the place full and brimming with summer—all green leaves and wildflowers in golden sunlight. It’s the most beautiful place in this city and I’m content to think it’s still a wild, hidden treasure. It’s vast enough to feel like you could get lost, but small enough to know all the well-marked trails will lead you back home.

I passed a few people along the trail, all with a nod and “Good morning.” Most were alone, like me, and I wondered as we exchanged glances—do you need this place like I do? Do you need the tall trees with branches curved into a canopy of shade above, the open meadows that rustle with tall grass, the creek that ripples and murmurs over eroded stone?

Yes, I think. I know we both do.

And we continue off in our own separate directions, down our own trails.

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