Through the Forest

This morning I went with my dad to the zoo. The chill of the week before had made a reappearance today coupled with an overcast sky that made doing something outside an absolute necessity. Since it was somewhat cold we figured the zoo wouldn’t be all that crowded, not so early in the morning any way, but unfortunately we were wrong. We pulled into the parking lot and snaked our way through the aisles of parked cars, having zero luck finding an empty space. I’d never seen the zoo that crowded, even on a sunny day, so we resigned to park in the overflow lot, but as we approached that one it too was crowded and a line of cars approaching from the other direction were backed up a full block waiting to turn in. We decided, in the spirit of not dealing with the annoying throngs of people who would undoubtedly get in my way while trying to view the animals, not realizing that this was my world that they were just living in, to go to Overton Park and walk through the forest.

Among the family, on my dad’s side any way, a famous incident occurred on the trails at Overton Park many years ago when I was a child. I was too young to remember it but as my dad tells it, he took me to walk along the trail one day and it ended up being much longer than he’d realized. About a quarter of the way in I got tired and was ready for the hike to be over with, so in the spirit of bribing me to continue along, my dad would point to a tree ahead and say once we get there he will give me a cookie. It’s amazing how motivating a cookie can be. This worked, but before long he was down to the last cookie. He held out his hand and started backing away, making me chase him for my prize and when I finally reached out to grab it, I fumbled it through my fingers and the cookie landed in the dirt. Now I’ve grown up a lot since then and even enjoy long walks now, but as we made our way through the forest today it did occur to me that the experience definitely could have benefitted from a cookie or two.

We followed a path and when that path split off we would go in another direction, zig-zagging through the trees with no idea where we were going and in no real hurry to get there. We didn’t see many other people as we walked but we did pass a guy twice with a gigantic dog that looked as if he could easily bite my hand off, and each time they approached a wave of terror shot through me as I thought that perhaps that fear was about to be realized. Luckily I made it out of the forest with all limbs intact, however when we emerged from the trees onto the main path we were actually on the complete opposite side of the park from where my car was waiting. If this had happened on another day under different circumstances I met have felt annoyed or inconvenienced, but as it was I didn’t mind the extra time spent walking back across the park on this lazy Sunday. In fact, I rather enjoyed doing so.

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