My husband cooked me dinner this Valentine’s Day, so while he and my toddler were at the grocery store, I packed up the dog and the baby for a tramp in the nearby county park. Am I glad I did. It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter, in the words of George Harrison. I’ve been stuck inside a townhouse for most of it with a toddler, an infant, a large dog, and a bold cat. February 14 brought the first true sunshine and blue skies we’ve seen in weeks.
Usually on such a lovely but muddy evening, I would think I should take the baby and the dog for a walk in the park, but I don’t want to pack up the car seat and the diaper bag and get the van muddy and worry about it getting dark and maybe I’ll just watch this Colbert Report rerun instead. I’m glad I didn’t give myself enough time to think. I just jammed my feet into galoshes, grabbed what I needed to bring with me (living creatures and otherwise) and left the house before I had time to talk myself out of it.
I felt free for the first time in weeks.
The park was empty, the views were wide, and God was there. Stiff breezes carried the smell of spring at their back – wet rain, damp earth, roots beginning to stir. Piles of clouds towered and glowed gold in the late sun. My dog, usually a loveable nuisance at best in our smallish house, was a trustworthy friend in the darkening hills. The baby was at peace. I was at peace. I didn’t want to go home.
My husband and I have always dreamed of owning a little piece of land out in the middle of nowhere one day, somewhere quiet and beautiful and a little wild. (He’s thinking Alaska, I’m thinking northern Baltimore County.) It’s easy to get caught up in the drudgery of small spaces and forget how quickly I can still leave all of that and go find a bit of open beauty. It’s also easy to forget how necessary it is for me, how much more contented I am when I breath clean, cool air and feel the long rays of evening light speed across my face.
So this is for Evan – I remember what we dreamed about that night on a porch in West Virginia, and I still want it. Until we get there for good, we can still find wild spaces around the corner from townhouse neighborhoods and pockets of quiet hiding between gaps in the suburbs.