Yesterday I looked at my manuscript, lying open with “Chapter 39” written at the top of an otherwise blank page. There was a pen lying within easy reach. And in my head were bits and pieces of the next five chapters, floating around in the current. So I did what any eager, aspiring author would do.
I said to the MS, “I’m going out. Please be a dear and write yourself. I’ll be back later to check on you.”
Then I laced up my cross-trainers, jumped in the car, and drove to a walking trail ten miles away.
Yes, drove. My town is a great place to walk around and through, but I know every square inch of it by now, having plodded its streets for more than twenty years. The previous night, I had delved into a book entitled “Walk There!”, put out by Kaiser Permanente and Portland Metro, and decided the Fanno Creek trailway looked interesting. I’d seen parts of the trail many times, especially when delivering my recycles to the center in Beaverton, but had never taken the time to actually set foot on it.
I set out under a warm summer sky, which was partially obscured by clouds that looked as if they would bite if provoked. Lucky for me nothing came of their glowering–all bark and no bite. But they did provide shade when the mild summer heat started to radiate a little too much off the blacktop trail.
The segment I was going to take was only 1 1/2 miles in length, so I figured I’d be done fairly early. However, the path kept winding away into the distance, further and further, bending towards areas my curious mind had to explore. It crossed busy streets, so I felt I had to accompany it for its own safety. Going off onto short side paths to see other sights, backtracking to cross the creek, petting friendly little dogs, and watching people play Frisbee golf–before I knew it, I had been walking due south (with windings and loopings) for an hour and a half!
The path was hindered at one point by the rising of the creek–apparently beavers had decided that they would make their home nearby. I had a nice little talk with the guy who was working on a compromise between what the little critters wanted and what us humans needed. There is a lot of paperwork involved in creating a better walkway, so he was thinking that a bit of sandbagging along the trail would be a good stopgap measure. We Oregonians take our “share-the-wilderness” outlook seriously. Wildlife has no idea how much respect it is accorded in the halls of the Capitol.
I finally, reluctantly, turned back and retraced my steps–somewhat. There were other branches and loops to explore. I raced a dragonfly; we ran and laughed together, and parted as friends. My legs hurt a lot by the time I got back to my car; after all, I am still trying to recuperate from the Portland-to-Coast event. All in all, I was out on the trail for almost three hours. I have no idea how many miles I walked. But it was an afternoon well-spent.
Today those same five chapters are still floating around in my head, but thanks to the time spent on the trail yesterday, those bits have come together into bigger sections, and perhaps they will get put down on paper today. But the warmth of the day lures me to the outdoors once again.