a walk in two parts
Around 4 o’clock, I threw down my rake and told the leaves screw you. It was an endless, thankless job, and it was doing absolutely nothing to ease my muddled mind. So instead, I put on my ballcap, chose a playlist loaded with late 70’s gems, and headed for the local Rails to Trails path. October in Pennsylvania is a conundrum: still too warm to be cold, yet already too cool to be warm. I had no idea if the clothing I’d chosen for raking would work for a hike, but I hit the trail and just kept walking.
The trail was fairly deserted, but about two miles out I noticed a young couple walking up ahead. Although they were doing absolutely nothing to draw attention to themselves, I was captivated nonetheless. Unlike me, they weren’t endeavoring to burn up calories or outwalk the stink of 2020. He and she were just together, and delightedly so. As I followed the couple beneath a canopy of maples and oaks, I enjoyed observing them for awhile.
They fit together just so, playfully kicking up golden leaves as they walked in step. Both were dressed head to toe in blue, except for the candied apple red sunglasses perched on the young man’s face. It was a nice touch I might have missed had he not turned his head toward her again and again. Whatever conversation they were having was clearly engaging enough to keep them lost in it, absolutely present in the moment, punctuating their words with hand holding and attempts at piggy-back rides, and that thing where one person playfully bumps hips with the other. The word adorable comes to mind.
Soon my quicker pace allowed me to catch up, and they moved to the side so I could pass. Although under no obligation to do so, the young couple acknowledged me with twinkling eyes, friendly smiles, and a wish for my day to be a good one. I kept walking, but there they stayed, leaning against a split rail fence and giggling at private jokes. Perfectly at ease in each other’s company, the two were the epitome of young love.
I smiled to think of how lucky they were to find themselves at the beginning of such a beautiful journey, and remembered fondly the days, many years ago, when my husband and I were beginning a similar journey. We were once young, attractive, and so in love nothing else mattered. And it was glorious. Don’t get me wrong– my husband and I still love each other. And now we enjoy the rewards bestowed on couples after 38 years of marriage, with decades of challenges met and memories made. We’re comfortable and worn in; our days are reassuringly rhythmic. I am very satisfied where we are.
That’s the satisfaction I wished for this young couple as I left them to discover one another on a crisp fall day, and turned my thoughts to the trail ahead.
The batteries in my earbuds died, and with the trail to myself I decided just to let my music play into the air. When the cows who live along the trail heard The Clash singing Train in Vain, several interrupted their grassy feast and trotted toward the fence. It’s not often you meet cows that approve of 70’s classic rock, so I decided to hang by the pasture and commune for awhile.
This heifer had an intelligent look, so I asked what she thought about the election, with its battling campaign signs and filthy “October Surprise.” Without breaking her gaze, she raised her tail and let loose a steady stream of urine.
“You’re right,” I agreed. “Piss on it.”
Next, I began to fancy whatever song was playing when cow made eye contact with me was that cow’s theme. I could hardly believe my cleverness.
I christened this cow Chuck E., because like Ricki Lee Jones, she wanted to know what would make a boy behave this way.
Meet Patti Smith, who agrees the night belongs to lovers. I think the heart on her forhead is a dead giveaway.
Fat Bottomed Girls.
I named her Queen.
Joe Jackson’s Is She Really Going Out With Him caught the attention of these two cows.
But clearly, this one thought their dating habits were nobody’s dang business.
At that point, a mighty moo arose from somewhere within the herd, and as if on cue, the cows turned their tails to me and headed back towaard the barn. Obviously, they were tired of my game. And suddenly I was, too.
It was time to go home because those leaves weren’t going to rake themselves.