I’ve lived in one place for over 30 years now, and walked this path along the edge of Silver Lake countless times. On these walks I’ve met my neighbors, many who have become friends. I’ve watched as they have grown older (as have I) and feel wistful; so many have grown old and died. As I pass each house along my walk, I think of each person who called this place “home,” greeted me on my daily walks, and offered a friendly voice during some difficult times in my life. Gone, but not forgotten.
There was a time, not that long ago, that I traced the shores of Silver Lake every day as I slowly, slowly recovered from a life-threatening illness and resulting surgery that left me almost unable to walk. It took not just weeks, not just months, but years to regain movement, strength and hope. These daily walks, like visiting a comfortable, familiar old friend, helped heal both my body and my soul. Here’s an article I wrote long ago about those walks:
I’ve walked this path with my young children, my children as they grew older, friends, neighbors, family, new acquaintances, young grandchildren, but more often than not these outings have been solitary. This morning’s walk was much the same as so many other solitary walks. And yet, it was different. In fact, I am different.
In the past I struggled to survive; now, I’m on a quest. But a quest for what, I’m not quite sure. I’ve learned that when setting out on a trip, my experiences often bear little if any resemblance to what I had thought the purpose of my journey would be.
And so I this morning I walked, camera in hand, understanding that where I go, whatever I see, there are others who join me; encouragers, those who simply enjoy the wonders of nature, and some who understand that being in the outdoors is where they thrive.
In years past I avoided tracks and trails in the fall; the possibility of encountering hunters was daunting. But this unformed quest I live with has challenged me to be creative and conquer fears. Plus, I discovered the virtues of blaze orange! Now my favorite fall color, blaze orange goes with everything. And I rejoice in the glories of fall, experimenting with light, walking different times of day, discovering new ways of seeing very familiar places.
Near the end of today’s walk I stopped by the dock where my children learned to swim. To me it’s always Yvonne Perreault’s dock, even though the house has now changed hands several times. At the end of the dock stood some neighbors, a dad with his little boy. Danny was fishing, and his dad was nearby, ready to help if need be. How many times that dock has supported children learning to fish, has been a launching pad for energetic children. There, my children learned to swim. Many have pushed off from there in canoes or kayaks.
We waved, they went back to fishing, and I headed home. As I’ve explored the local waking trails near where I live, I’ve found many places I enjoy, and almost all I’m glad to encourage others to get out and see for themselves. How blessed we are to live in this area of the world. But there’s something different about this little spot I call home. It’s not for everyone–you probably have a place you’re thinking of right now that’s “home,” quite different from mine, but that’s all right.
It reminds me of the story my mother loved to tell of her beloved grandfather. Mom would smile and recall, “He’d say, ‘It’s a good thing everyone isn’t the same, or they’d all want to be married to my wife!'” Then Mom would laugh and say, “And she wasn’t such a nice woman, so it was even sweeter that he always said that.”
Marjorie Turner Hollman
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.