Alone Together

The last few days of higher temperatures have all but eliminated the recent snow. But before it left I did get a chance last week to do one of my favorite things: a solitary walk through a quiet, snowy wood. Some people are adrenaline-junkies — they have to be crashing through something or speeding over something or climbing up something to be happy. But for me, nothing compares to crunching slowly along a frosty path as the snow lends a softness and stateliness to the most mundane of objects; escaping into my thoughts, rather than away from them. Obstacles that seemed insurmountable before a walk like that always seem to have shrunk to a more manageable size after one.

Of course, the solitude was largely an illusion. I was walking by myself, true. But the sound of drivers traveling along nearby Route 11 occasionally drifted through the trees. At one point, an airplane, presumably full of passengers, left a contrail in the sky high overhead. And at my feet, I saw the footprints of dozens of people who had come to walk the trails at the Susquehanna Riverlands. Many were accompanied by the meandering prints of the family dog.

I took a great deal of comfort from those footprints. It doesn’t matter how much you enjoy your job, there are always days when the alarm clock seems to ring too early and the hours drag too long. But those days go a little easier when you get a reminder of how many visitors come to our facility, how many benefit from the efforts we put forth. Many of those people, like me, come to these trails to slow down, to recharge, to be alone with their thoughts. Ok, so technically none of us were ever truly alone — but that doesn’t really matter.

Sometimes the illusion of solitude is enough.

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