Thursday, January 31, 2008


Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved to explore. As a kid growing up in the Oregon countryside, I would spend whole days tramping through fields and forests. In the spring I'd search far and wide for daffodils and wild irises; summertime meant staying within the cool shade of the forest, picking elderberries, or searching for a good swimming hole in a far-off stream. Once my brother and I discovered an abandoned cemetery deep in the forest, far from any road or building. A car from the 1930's was abandoned nearby, smashed into a tree. The thrill of discovery and adventure was what drove me to explore back then.

Later, as a young woman in Massachusetts, I roamed the woods and fields around my home in search of beauty and romance. Reciting poetry outloud to the trees, my dog and I wandered a landscape broken up by crumbling stone walls built by early settlers, and I would imagine life as a pilgrim girl, or an Indian maiden. Once we found a long-forgotten centuries-old well, now appropriated by frogs, and almost reclaimed by brambles. Even in the winter, when snow was deep, it was fun to traipse through the New England woods, try walking upon a frozen pond, spot red cardinals against the bleakness.

Here in New York, its no different. I can walk and walk, alone, through landscape as wild as any countryside. Instead of wheatfields or woods, I see skyscrapers and cement. My mind wanders and absorbs the beauty of elaborately decorated architecture. I observe the people who pass by, the shop windows, the schoolyards, the streetcorner fruitstands, the garbage, the art, the beggars, the taxicabs, all of the lights and colors and sounds. Some people express surprise when I tell them how far I walk--I've learned that it's not a common practice here, even where things are so nearby. But I love walking, and I take every chance I get to explore. It's still an adventure, full of discovery, beauty and romance.

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