A Walk In The Park, February 1990

One winter Sunday, after completing a few hours work at my elementary school office, I decided to take a walk on my favorite trail off Log Cabin Road in Durand Eastman Park before settling in to watch the Super Bowl at home.  It was a beautiful day for walking.  The sky was clear.  The late afternoon sun shown brightly.  The air was crisp and clean.  I took the trail off to the left and walked at a brisk pace, because I was more interested in exercise than scenery that day.

After walking for some time, I came to a part of the trail where a marsh opens onto a lovely pond.  I stopped for a moment to take in the scene and was immediately overwhelmed by the quiet stillness.

I remember the first time I experienced this sensation.  I was twelve years old and a Boy Scout, camping in January.  We were playing Capture the Flag and I got separated from the group.  After struggling for some time to make progress in the waist deep snow, I fell back to rest and was smothered by a silence I’d never experienced before.  The deep snow muffled every sound but the rapid beating of my own heart.  I’ve experienced that sensation several times since, while skiing and camping at this time of year.

I sometimes wonder if our children ever have the privilege of this experience.  It seems that the current generation carries its noise wherever it goes, plugged into its ears, strapped to its waist, slung over its shoulder.  Our kids often seem to be turned on and tuned out.  It’s a shame because they miss so much that can only be experienced in silence.

As my ears began to adjust to the stillness, in the same way that my eyes adjust to the darkness of a room after entering from the light, I began to hear the quiet muttering of ducks feeding out on the pond.  After awhile a breeze stirred and dry leaves rustled near by.  Deep in the woods, I heard a red squirrel call and felt the sound of a sparrow’s wings as it fluttered by.  It was wonderful to stop for a moment and experience what I so often miss in my hurry to get from here to there.

It doesn’t seem to be in the nature of children to stop and listen and reflect.  And I sometimes wonder if they ever have the chance to experience this kind of special moment.  Perhaps someday when the Walkman breaks or the boom box is just too heavy to carry, they’ll be caught off guard as I was at age twelve, and they’ll get their chance.  I hope they do.

 © Don Yackel 2020