New Places to Explore!

Recently Richard and I took a few hours to explore the area. Besides getting acclimated to a new city, we wanted to find a “walking” garden, or trails to hike. The beginnings of our search didn’t look so great. Richard wanted to show me the park where he now runs almost every morning. I excitedly anticipated seeing the place thinking we were actually going to a park where there were trees and flowers, various shrubbery and possibly even picturesque park benches to sit and contemplate the beauty all around. When we arrived at our destination however, I was a bit disappointed . . . to put it mildly. Richard’s park was a high school athletic field! Richard’s morning runs at the “lovely park” he wanted me to see was a soccer field with a running track and other obvious game fields, maybe for baseball and the like. Unfazed at my protestations, Richard encouraged me to walk the track and get some exercise myself while he ran his allotted time. What else was I going to do? So camera in tow, I began to walk around the field. And as I walked I began to remember my years as a track-and-field and cross-country runner Mom to three athletic children. The memories rushed my mind’s eye as if the track meets were just yesterday. I got wrapped up in the memories and began shooting photographs of the objects that were triggering the memories. We were on the field of a school I had never been in, and still don’t know the name of, but the memories were of familiar sights.

As I shot photos of the field, other sights began to come into view as well: a late summer dandelion with a bee buzzing around looking for nectar; a squirrel, actually a slew of squirrels, scampering around the field looking for food (which it found); flowers, some small and delicate, others were not really flowers at all, rather flowering heads of some seed (I think.) In other words, while this was not the beautiful gardens I had expected, there was ample beauty to behold!

After Richard’s exercise run and my walk-around with the camera, we headed out to a nature reservation Richard remembered from years ago when he lived in the area. When we arrived and began walking up the path, I realized with a start that this is where Richard took me on one of our first dates. I had come to Cleveland to meet his mother, and while we were here he took me to a beautiful nature preserve for a hike. I think that is where I knew that I could love this man for a very long time. That was a little over ten years ago. As we approached the first pond, I remember sitting on a bench bundled up in layers of sweaters and wraps as the damp autumn was colder than this southern gal was accustomed to. Despite the shivering and bundling however, I remember the awesomeness of seeing the place for the first times. During that first visit we watched the activity at the pond. We strolled along the walkways through the bogs and read every posting describing what we were seeing. I remember telling Richard that I would like to come again. That was ten years ago, and today as we approach our tenth wedding anniversary, here we are again. The weather today was much warmer, in fact it was downright humid as we watched the storm clouds roll in and listened to the booming thunder portending a drenching rain soon to follow. We only got as far as the pond, but I was able to shoot a few frames. Now that we live here, we will make many more visits to this place, I am sure.

Finally, on our way back home Richard wanted to show me where the synagogues were located. We arrived at the first and Richard pulled into the parking lot, drove around and out. We never got out to see the building, only what we saw from the car as we made a loop of the parking lot. The second synagogue, same thing. By the third lot I spoke up, telling Richard in no uncertain terms that I was not interested in viewing parking lots. I had better things to do. Richard being Richard however, “just this one” and by that time he had already pulled in and we headed toward the back of the lot. Then I saw. This was not planned by Richard. It could not have been. But, see for yourself, and read more about the experience here.

By the end of the day, I was yet again reminded that one does not have to travel afar to find natural beauty. It is everywhere if we open our eyes and minds and hearts to see. As with any move, the transition here is disorienting. There are certainly places and people I miss from before. But a bit of exploring gave me a peek at what is waiting here for us to discover. I look forward to the exploration!