Okay! As promised, here's the story about my adventure in the woods--was it really just yesterday? It really was. Time is doing strange things here. I seem to say that a lot.
Something else I hear myself say a lot is how much I love being in the woods: being surrounded by trees, the way the light dapples and refracts (that word again). Well. I learned some lessons in the woods yesterday, both about being in the woods and, because I can't help it, metaphorically.
I went to Sandy Creek Park, which is a pretty, nicely kept park that appears self-contained. There is a lake with a bridge over it, a beach, children's play areas; over the bridge, some camping areas and some trails around the lake. Had I turned left on the lakeshore trail, I would have made a gentle sweep around the park area. I turned right. I hadn't paid attention to know that in that direction, the lake went off way past the boundaries of the park, almost out of sight, not self-contained at all.
I learned yesterday that being in thick woods for several hours with no clearing becomes claustrophobic. I really was a tunneling worm, although for extra dimension, a little bridge was where I rejected that paragraph of a book review I was writing in my head, and that upward draw was where I composed those nice sentences for the next essay, so that the sentences will always be colored by that part of the trail and, if I hike the trail again, various sections of it will be redolent of whatever sentences I was working on there.
Even so, after a while I was suffocating and really wanted a clearing. After longer, I was tired and ready to be done. Remember, I started the day so tired I could barely get myself out of bed. I kept going and kept going, thinking "it's a lake; surely I'll get back to where I started eventually!" Or at least to another exit from it and a trail back through the park.
When I was sooo ready to be done, I found this big, beautiful bridge. Perfect timing! This was obviously going to take me to a grand exit.
Wrong. It led to a disused trail and a locked cattle gate. I climbed over the gate into a cul-de-sac with a mixture of grand houses and trailer homes. I asked some folks who'd just pulled in to their property where I was and how to get back to the park. They said I'd have to go back the way I came, several miles--safer than going along the highway. It was 6 pm at this point and I'm not in AK now with 20-hour days! I mentioned that, and they said I had at least a couple hours of daylight. It's much darker in the woods, I almost wailed. Yes, fair point, it is., they said. They absolutely did not want to help me out, even by talking to me.
So, the best I could do was plan to go back the way I'd come as near to running as possible on my tired, blistered feet. Yes, I cried. I put a sad text on Facebook but more importantly, texted my friend with whom I'm staying to let her know I'd no idea when I'd be home. She called back immediately to say get back out to the road, find out where you are, and I'll come pick you up and take you back to the car. Wow, really? Wow. Okay, then.
This time, though, I got a different answer from the cul-de-sac. A couple just heading out on their own walk saw me, asked if I'd come from the trail, and said of course they'd take me to my car! Apparently it wasn't the first time they'd rescued a lost crepuscular hiker who faced dashing back through the woods for miles. And it was a long way. Several minutes down the highway. I am so grateful to that couple. They were unconditional warmth and kindness.
So, obviously, the first lesson learned is "Look where you're headed for." Don't assume the lake is commensurate with the park. I had hiked almost halfway around it, seven or eight miles, but that left probably another ten.
But the second lesson has to do with the two different cul-de-sac encounters. After that last excursion off my meds, I was describing to my psychiatrist how blessedly soon after getting back on them I resanified. "You're so lucky," she said. For many people, the meds don't work so quickly after those sins of omission and sometimes don't work as well forever after. Then she looked me in the eye and held the contact. "Don't take it for granted," she said. Similarly, I have blundered off road or off trail or on unknown trail so often all my life. Somehow or another, I've been rescued, picked up, brought to safety. Last night, though, for some time it looked like my only option was hike back the way I came, in darkness, with no guarantee I'd be able to follow the trail let alone notice the side-trail up to the parking lot. Don't take it for granted that I'll be rescued. But do be grateful that I'm so lucky.
Does it resonate?