I’m not the only one who’s been feeling depressed this month, worn out from a winter that has lasted too long and yearning to feel the sun on my face. Every one of us can relate to leading lives of lonely desperation sometimes. Twice this week, I determined to go outside and walk the trails along the Fox River – to give myself a sensory experience and boost my imagination. After all, walking is the theme of this blog. During a window of sunshine on Tuesday, I walked the Newberry Trail, and today I walked around Riverfront Park. I went despite the grey clouds and misty rain and met a fellow walker. She was ahead of me, but then she stopped to look up into the bare tops of the tall trees overhead to see why the birds were making such a racket. “Just a lover’s quarrel,” she said, when I stopped to ask what she was looking at.
We walked the rest of the way together to the park, and she was just as downtrodden as I by the gloomy weather. I said I was hoping if enough of us went out walking, maybe the sun would come out. “The Boston bombings, what happened in Texas, my mom’s Alzheimer’s, and this no sunshine…it’s like ram, ram, ram to the heart,” she said, demonstrating her feelings by hitting her fists on her chest. I wished I could give her some hope, some sign of better things to come, some reason for faith.
“That’s why I came out walking today,” I said, “to find the beauty out here.” And I waved my hand towards the expanse of water to our left, where giant and tiny chunks of ice were packed close together and were ebbing in and out of the shoreline. Half of the surface was covered with these thawing ice chunks. “Did you hear the sound?” she asked.
“Yes! The chink, chinking of the ice,” I told her I had never heard anything like it before. Indeed, as I stood alone by the river’s edge listening to it, I grappled for words to describe it, like a million wine glasses being lightly clinked together.
I was grateful for her company and our conversation. When we departed, both hoping for brighter days, I felt the burden on my shoulders grow lighter and I hoped she did, too, from simply having walked some of the way together.
And I let my imagination soar and wondered about the squirrel’s tail, what it would feel like to hold that elusive fluff of hair in my hand or to catch the creature in my hands and hold it close for a minute. And would it carry these blues away as it gingerly hops up the tree?